Olive Pink Botanic Garden

OPBG FloraBean Tree Bush Hibiscus Bush Plum Caper Bush / Wild Passionfruit Dead Finish Ghost Gum Heart-leaved Frankenia Krichauff Ranges Fuchsia Mulga Pink Fire-bush Potato Bush Red-Bud Mallee Sturt’s Desert Rose Tall Saltbush Wild Tomato Wire-Leaf Mistletoe

Solanum ellipticum is a striking looking plant that are at their best after rain. Known locally as Potato Bush, like most Solanum species they have purple mauve flowers. Unlike the Solanum centrale that has a more star-shaped flower, the Solanum ellipticum corolla is a more pentagonal shape, measuring 20–30 mm diameters across. The bright yellow stamen/anthers are about 4–5 mm long. There are 1 to 7 flowers on the inflorescence.

Extreme care should be taken when identifying this plant as Solanum ellipticum can be mistaken for Solanum quadriloculatum, often being found growing among edible species.

Potato Bush (Solanum ellipticum)
Potato Bush (Solanum ellipticum), Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs, NT

A variable plant, the Potato Bush is also sometimes commonly known as Bush Tomato.

Bush Tomato (Solanum ellipticum)
Bush Tomato (Solanum ellipticum), Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs, NT

Bush tomato
Awele-awele or Alperrantyeye — Solanum ellipticum
The roots of this plant are used by Arrernte people to treat toothache.

The roots are baked in ash and then peeled and placed on the aching tooth.

The fruit of Awele-awele is also an important bushfood, but can act as a laxative if too many are eaten.

Bush Tomato (Solanum ellipticum) signage, Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs, NT
Bush Tomato (Solanum ellipticum) signage, Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs, NT

CAUTION
There are many Solanum species that resemble Solanum centrale, and only some of them produce edible fruit. Some closely related species produce fruit that are toxic.

The unripe fruit contains the toxin solanine (the same as that found in green potatoes) and must be fully ripened before consumption.

S. sturtianum is poisonous and can usually be recognised by the yellow or black dry brittle fruits.
Bush Tomato (Solanum ellipticum)
Bush Tomato (Solanum ellipticum), Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs, NT

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Eudicots
  • Clade: Asterids
  • Order: Solanales
  • Family: Solanaceae
  • Genus: Solanum
  • Species: S. ellipticum
  • Binomial name: Solanum ellipticum

OPBG FloraBean Tree Bush Hibiscus Bush Plum Caper Bush / Wild Passionfruit Dead Finish Ghost Gum Heart-leaved Frankenia Krichauff Ranges Fuchsia Mulga Pink Fire-bush Potato Bush Red-Bud Mallee Sturt’s Desert Rose Tall Saltbush Wild Tomato Wire-Leaf Mistletoe

Olive Pink Botanic GardenOPBG Fauna OPBG Flora