Article from the
Tropical Fruit News magazine of the Miami Rare Fruit Council
by Gene Joyner
The carissa, or natal plum, Carissa grandiflora,
is native to South Africa and is one of the most popular seaside hedge
plants in South Florida because of its tolerance to salt spray and
resistance to damage by wind. This large shrub grows to about 15 feet
and has very thick, shiny, dark green leaves on thick branches heavily
armed with sharp, branched thorns.
This plant grows
relatively slowly compared to other shrubs but makes up for it by its
many uses. Carissa is excellent as a barrier or security hedge because
of the large thorns; a large dense hedge of this is almost
impenetrable. The plant also has white fragrant flowers about 1-1/2 to
2 inches in diameter for most of the year. The heaviest bloom is during
the warmer months, and many varieties form large numbers of Iarge--up
to 2 inches long--oval-to-ellipticalshaped reddish fruits.
thin skin of the fruit encloses a reddish pulp with several small,
almost circular seeds, and while the pulp has a white milky latex, this
in no way interferes with the eating of the fruit. The fruits are eaten
fresh but are most often used for sauces, jellies, and even ice cream.
Sauce made from carissa is often said to taste almost like that made
Due to the wide tolerance of soil types,
carissa can be grown almost anywhere there is good drainage and
sufficient light. Carissa is not easily damaged by cold weather either,
and can be used well into Central Florida with not problems.
of the natal plum is usually by cuttings from selected varieties that
have good quality or larger fruit. It can also be propagated easily by
seeds; however, seedlings may produce inferior fruit.
landscapers use carissa more for its ornamental value than for its
fruits, and allow birds and other animals to enjoy the fruits, but some
people have developed quite a liking for the fruits and purposely buy
natal plum for that purpose. Carissa can also be grown well in
containers and because of its attractive leaves, flowers and fruit,
makes an excellent container specimen or even bonsai.
production and growth, fertilize carissa with a good quality fertilizer
2 or 3 times a year. There are few pests or diseases that affect this
plant that require any type of spray program.