Carissa macrocarpa
Common name: 
Natal Plum
kar-ISS-uh ma-kro-CAR-pa
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Broadleaf evergreen, dense shrub, usually 5-7 ft (1.5-2 m) tall but can reach 30 ft (9 m), closely branched, upright, rounded form; branches with forked, stout spines to 4 cm long.  Leaves simple, opposite, ovate, 3-6.5 cm long, leathery, glossy, rich green.  Flowers white, solitary, 5-petaled, star-shaped, fragrant; blooms throughout the year.  Fruit oval, somewhat the size of plums, 2.5-4 cm long, fleshy, at first green, when ripe, red or purple, thin skinned; has raspberry- or cranberry-like flavor.
  • Sun or light shade.  Easy to grow, excellent in ocean wind and salt spray.  Often sheared or hedged.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone (9)10 (tropical)         Native to South Africa.  Prior to 1994, Natal was a province in South Africa, now it is combined with the former homeland of KwaZulu into the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Several selections are available, including 'Boxwood Beauty' (very compact), 'Fancy' (upright, large fruit), 'Green Carpet' (low growing), 'Prostrata' (low growing), 'Tomlinson' (thornless), and 'Variegata' (cream to yellow variegation).
  • It is widely planted in Old and New World tropics, but Sunset Western Garden Book points out that so many gardeners find this South African native appealing that it is grown in Zones far beyond safe limits.  In some regions it is grown outside only during the summer months.
  • macrocarpa: large fruited.
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit

    plant habit

  • flowers and foliage

    flowers and foliage

  • flower and leaf

    flower and leaf

  • leaves


  • spines ("thorns")

    spines ("thorns")

  • unripe and ripe fruit

    unripe and ripe fruit