Imuna (Bush Food) SP8658-Nikita Inkamala

Acrylic on Canvas
30 x 30cm
Year Painted


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Imuna (Bush Food) SP8658-Nikita Inkamala

Nikita paints a variety of Imuna (bush food). Often featured are Anaty (Desert Yam or Bush Potato -Ipomoea costata), Akatyerre (Desert Raisin), Alkwarrer (Bush Bananas), Tyape Atnyematye (Witchetty Grubs) and Yerrampe (Honey Ants).

The Anaty (desert yam) grows underground with its viny shrub growing above ground up to 1 metre high. It is normally found on spinifex sand plains and produces large pink flowers after summer rain. The anaty is a tuber, or swollen root, of the shrub and tastes much like the common sweet potato. It can be eaten raw or cooked and is still a staple food for the desert aborigines where it can be harvested at any time of the year. Some can be found as big as a person's head.

The akatyerre, also known as the desert raisin, wild sultana or bush tomato (Solanum centrale), is probably the most important of all Central Australian plant foods due to its abundance and widespread availability most of the year. Once collected, the Aboriginal people eat the akatyerre raw or grind them into a paste before being consumed. The paste can also be rolled into balls and dried to store during long periods of drought. This practice is not as habitual now but ceremonies relating to its story are. Yellow ones are ripe and ready to eat, and green ones are still young.

The woody, winding vine of the alkwarrer (bush banana) plant can be found climbing up other native trees and shrubs in Central Australia. It produces creamy white flowers and long skinny green leaves. This plant grows very quickly after rain and about a month later the fruits ripen and are collected by the Aboriginal people. The bananas are an important and favoured food, eaten raw. If not collected before maturation, the banana eventually opens up and releases numerous seeds with white feathery plumes (similar to a dandelion) that are carried by the wind for long distances to begin regermination. The fruit at this stage can still be eaten, but are favoured cooked. The sweet flowers, leaves and roots can also be eaten and aboriginal people often use the plumes for decorative purposes in ceremonies as well.

Tyape Atnyematye (Witchetty Grubs) are large tasty grubs that live in the numerous shallow roots of the witchetty bush (Acacia kempeana). They are a most important food source. To collect the grubs the aboriginal people dig at the base of the witchetty bush until they strike a root. Any swollen roots are levered up as it is a good sign there is a witchetty grub inside. Care is taken when breaking open the root so that the grub is not injured. If it is, the grub is usually eaten immediately. If not, the grubs are normally lightly roasted in coals before being consumed.

Yerrampe (Honey Ants) are a sweet bush food for the aboriginal people. When hunting for yerrampe care is taken not to kill or hurt them (or not get bitten either!) so that they can go on and collect more honey. The sac on the back of the yerrampe holds pure, natural honey.

Nikita also paints desert flowers and a coolamons (carved wooden bowls) which is a typical instrument used for collecting many bush foods.

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Located at
Mbantua Alice Gallery (MGA)