(Eckl.) A. DC., English: Natal Plum, Amatungulu, Big Num-Num, Family: Apocynaceae (Dogbane family)
Country of origin: Africa (Natal & Mozambique).
An evergreen fast-growing, dense and closely branched groundcover or shrub. The heights (0.2-5 m) depend on the cultivars, in Malta commonly 0.2-1 m. Typically multi-trunked or clumping stems are green when young, they contain a non-toxic milky sap. The plants are armed by sharp, bifurcate, attractively Y- shaped spines (thorns). The white solitary flowers are about 3-4 cm across. They are star-shaped, with overlapping petals, and especially at night sweetly fragrant. The 3-5 cm long, green-yellowish to bright red coloured fruit is a plum-shaped berry. Almost all year long, both flowers and fruits are present.
Remarks: Carissa macrocarpa is a common and often conspicuous species in Natal`s coastal bush and sand dunes. With several cultivars (e.g. Bonsai, Boxwood Beauty, Horizontalis, Nana, Tuttlei, Prostrata) the plants of Natal Plum are widely cultivated in the tropical and subtropical regions. The plant is often grown in containers, but it is also popular as a perfect hedge plant, its dense foliage and its spines makes it a good and effective barrier and low screen, or plants are used as a groundcover. They grow quickly and tolerate a wide range of soil and light conditions, prefer sandy, well-drained soils and tolerate drought and some salt.
Berries of the Natal Plum can be eaten raw, they are rich in Vitamin C and have a taste like a sweet cranberry. Occasionally they are used for delicious jams, jellies and preserves. All other parts of the Natal Plum are poisonous!