Passion Berry

Solanum cleistogamum (Solanaceae Family)

A native of the central desert regions and another of Australia's many and varied wild tomatoes, Passion Berries are a real sweet surprise. This prickly ground cover has mid-green soft leaves, about 2cm wide and 5cm long, and are generally incurved. Small, insignificant white to lilac flowers are often hidden in it's tangled mass of creeping branches.

The amazingly sweet and aromatic fruit are generally 1-1.5cm in diameter and hang in great numbers right at soil level under the plant. The fruit are ripe when creamy yellow, and taste somewhere between banana, caramel and vanilla. When the fruit fully ripen and dry, they fall off the plant, where they provide a delicacy for every small animal, bird or reptile that are attracted to the sweet fruit.

In the outback, Passion Berries have fallen foul of feral animals such as goats, donkeys, horses, cattle and camels, who can smell the ripe fruit from kilometres away. Whereas in the past emus, upon eating the fruit, did not fully digest the seed, but passed the scarified seed out with it's own all organic fertilizer! Because of the introduced grazers, with their double stomachs which fully digest the seed, Passion Berries have become rare in most of the centre. Over the past few years, the Quarmbys have introduced this species into cultivation, and produce Passion Berries at Reedy Creek as well as through the indigenous communities.

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