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Desert raisin

Desert raisin

Solanum centrale

Family:  Solanaceae

Small shrub growing to 30cm high which spreads by suckering underground to cover large areas.

The leaves are covered in fine, rusty coloured hairs. The purple flowers have five petals giving them a star shaped appearance. The petals often curve backwards prominently displaying the bright yellow stamens.

The fruit is a green berry which matures and dries to a brown raisin. This is edible and a highly prized food for Aboriginal people. They have a high nutritional value, although the taste of the fruit is highly variable. Please note that there are many species of Solanum which can look quite similar. Some others are poisonous or unpalatable.

This plant depends on fire or other disturbance to reach its best. It is not frost tolerant and the crop can be damaged by heavy frosts. Desert raisin can be found on spinifex sandplains and sand dunes and adjacent to areas where mulga is found.

Where to find this plant at Alice Springs Desert Park

There is an excellent display of this plant at the start of the Sand Country habitat.

Latz, P., 2004. Bushfires and Bushtucker, IAD Press, Alice Springs
Moore, P., 2005. A Guide to Plants of Inland Australia, Reed New Holland, Sydney

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