Carissa macrocarpa

Accession Count: 57
Common Name: Natal Plum, Large Num-num
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Family Name: Apocynaceae
Botanical Name: Carissa macrocarpa
Sub Species:
Variety:
Forma:
Cultivar:
Characteristics: Carissa macrocarpa is an evergreen wood shrub that have medium, dark-green, leathery, glabrous, thick leaves. The axillary meristem of the stems have stipular thorns that can grow to two inches in length. These thorns make the natal plum a hedge for privacy and unsafearound children. In spring the Carissa macrocarpa grows perfect, white, flowers that are up to two inches in size (2). The medium flowers bear green to dark red (when mature) egg shaped fruits that grow one to two inches long. When completely ripened the fruit can be eaten raw; they have been reported to taste like cranberries (5). 
Compound: Car mac
Geographic Origin: South Africa
Ecozone Origin: Afrotropic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: Apocynaceae Carissa macrocarpa is native to coastal Natal, South Africa where it is cultivated in the Transvaal. This species was brought to the States in 1886 by Theodore Meade. Eventually several thousand seedlings were raised at the Plant Introduction Garden in Miami and distributed to Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and California. In 1905 natal plum reached Hawaii and then was quickly distributed throughout the entire island. The Bahamas , Philippines, India, East Africa and Israel all have the Carissa thriving in their boundaries.  The main use of this species has shifted away from nutritional value to value as a landscape ornamental plant (3).
Cultivation Notes: For optimal growth, coastal climates are ideal. These plants are salt-tolerant, and show little damage in full sunlight. Drought tolerant natal plum prefer balanced fertilizer, periodic irrigation  and need only light pruning. They are propagated by seed. Germination takes  two weeks. For best results vegetative propagation is recommended and air-layering, ground-layer, or shield-bedding are known to be effective (6). 
Ethnobotany: This species is native to South Africa where the fruit is prized for its high nutritional content. When the fruit is ready to be harvested it is can be consumed raw or made into pies, jams, jellies and sauces (2). The fruit can be preserved by first pricking the skin and flesh and then briefly cooking in a sugar syrup (3).

Height: 16 - 20 feet
Width: 6 - 10 feet
Growth Rate: Slow Growing
Grow Season: Spring
Flower Season: Spring
Color: White
Function:
Spread: Spreading
Allergen: Allergenic
Invasive: Invasive
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Hardy
Water Use: Low water Use
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Carissa macrocarpa