Apocynaceae, Carissa carandas

Carissa carandas, similar to the Natal Plum, finds origins in areas of India and Southeast Asia where it is grown for its fruit, as an adornment, and to be used as a living fence. It can be found today in tropical countries around the world.

If left un-pruned, the shrub can be grown almost like a vine, the plant has been found growing up to forty feet into mango and avocado trees. If pruned this species can be managed as a sprawling shrub, growing from 3-6 meters high. The plant has strong thorns at the base of the leaves and produces clusters of fragrant white or pale-rose colored flowers which mature into fruit that can be consumed raw, made into preserves, or juiced. The juice is reported to be very good. Carissa is also traditionally used to make wine.

There is a Carissa species native to Australia (C. Brownii) that grows in a more compact form then most other Carissa species. The fruit’s high pectin content makes it excellent for preserves.

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