In this painting Marie Ryder depicts women collecting merne awele awele,known as the wild tomato or gooseberry (Solanum ellipticum). Merne means food in Marie’s language and awele awele is the tomato. U shapes represent the women sitting. They have their digging stick on one side and decoratively carved coolamon (wooden bowl) on the other side.
The clonal sub-shrub of the awele awele grows most commonly on foothills and lower hill slopes throughout Central Australia. It produces beautiful purple flowers and velvety grey or bluish-green leaves. Drought resistant it can produce tomatoes when the weather is dry, but the tomatoes are produced in abundance during good moisture conditions. The tomatoes are a traditional staple food of the Central desert aboriginals. Once collected, the Aboriginal people eat the tomatoes raw or put them in the hot earth by the fire, sprinkle water on top and cook them.