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Carissa macrocarpa (Eckl.) A. DC.

Natal plum, amatungulu

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderGentianalesGentians, coffee, gardenias, frangipani, many others
FamilyApocynaceaeDogbane family
GenusCarissaFrom the Sanskrit corissa, the name of one of the Indian species
SpeciesmacrocarpaWith large fruits or seedpods

About plant names...

The Natal plum is a native of Africa, where it is found along the coast, from the southern tip of South Africa, along its eastern coast up through Mozambique.

Identification: These plants usually form dense, thorny shrubs, growing on sandy soil, but can produce small trees up to 13' (4 m) high. Leaves are broad-ovate, tough, glossy, and leathery, shiny and dark on the top, but paler below, ¾-2" (2-6 cm) x ½-1¼" (1.5-3.5 cm), ending in a thorn-like point. Y-shaped thorns up to 1¾" (5 cm) long are also present. Broken branches exude a non-toxic thick, milky latex. Flowers are white, 5-lobed, and tubular, up to 2" (5 cm) around, and fragrant. Fruits are round or oval-shaped, up to 2½" (6.3 cm) x 1½" (3.8 cm), a bright lighter shade of red at first, darkening with age.

Edibility: Fruits are tasty raw or as jams and jellies.

Online References:

The South African National Biodiversity Institute's web site, plantzafrica.com

Purdue University's Center for New Crops and Plants Products


Carissa grandiflora (E. Mey.) A. DC.


Carissa macrocarpa description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Carissa macrocarpa (Natal plum, amatungulu)

Bonsai. · 12/12/2016 · Bonsai West, Littleton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 24 × 18" (59 × 46 cm)


About this map...