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Natal Plum Carissa macrocarpa

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Carissa grandiflora
Phonetic Spelling
ka-RIS-uh ma-kro-KAR-pa
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Natal Plum is an easy to grow spiny evergreen, perennial shrub with dense leathery green leaves, fragrant white flowers and showy edible red fruits. It is typically small, at 5 to 7 feet tall, but can reach a height of 30 feet. It is a native plant of Kenya, but has been introduced to Florida, Texas, and parts of southeast Asia. Because of its stout, forked 1/2 inch long spines it can be used as a hedge, security screen or foundation planting where it is hardy. It can also be grown in a container that is brought indoors in the winter.  It is tolerant of salt spray. The species name, macrocarpa, means large fruit.

Natal Plum will do well in full sun or light shade and organic soil in a warm, moist, tropical environment. It is easy to grow and can be sheared or hedged to fit the environment. It is a tropical plant and does well in USDA zones 9 and 10; however, its popularity has caused many gardeners to plant it, with some success, in zones outside 9 or 10.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

No known diseases or pests.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Boxwood Beauty'
    Compact
  • 'Fancy'
    Upright, large fruits
  • 'Green Carpet'
    Low growing
  • 'Prostrada'
    Low Growing
  • 'Tomlinson'
    Dwarf, thorns are more hidden in foliage, wine red fruits
  • 'Variegata'
    Variegated foliage with cream or yellow
'Boxwood Beauty', 'Fancy', 'Green Carpet', 'Prostrada', 'Tomlinson', 'Variegata'
Tags:
#white flowers#easy to grow#low maintenance#security plant#showy fruits#salt spray tolerant#spines#red fruits#edible fruits#leathery leaves#glossy fruits#purple fruits#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#dense growth#perennial
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Boxwood Beauty'
    Compact
  • 'Fancy'
    Upright, large fruits
  • 'Green Carpet'
    Low growing
  • 'Prostrada'
    Low Growing
  • 'Tomlinson'
    Dwarf, thorns are more hidden in foliage, wine red fruits
  • 'Variegata'
    Variegated foliage with cream or yellow
'Boxwood Beauty', 'Fancy', 'Green Carpet', 'Prostrada', 'Tomlinson', 'Variegata'
Tags:
#white flowers#easy to grow#low maintenance#security plant#showy fruits#salt spray tolerant#spines#red fruits#edible fruits#leathery leaves#glossy fruits#purple fruits#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#dense growth#perennial
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Carissa
    Species:
    macrocarpa
    Family:
    Apocynaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Layering
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Kenya to South Africa
    Distribution:
    Florida, Texas, Mexico, Burma.
    Edibility:
    Fruits have a raspberry-cranberry flavor.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Dense
    Multi-stemmed
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Appendage:
    Spines
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    9b, 9a, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Oval 1/2 inch long fruit, resemble plums, hence the common name. Immature green maturing to red or purple fleshy thin skinned edible. Edible when ripe and many-seeded.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Description:
    Five petaled solitary star-shaped white flowers with a jasmine-like scent bloom throughout the year.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Thick 1/2 inch long leaves are smooth, often with dark grey to brown upper surface and pale green to brown lower surface.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Young stems are smooth, greenish, strongly wrinkled into longitudinal ridges and channels; older twigs are similar with greenish or brownish color and often glossy surface.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Security
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Salt
    Problems:
    Spines/Thorns
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Sap contains latex. Ingestion may cause minor illnesses such as vomiting or diarrhea.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Unidentified, possibly a glycoside
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Sap/Juice