Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Natal Plum
Carissa macrocarpa 'Tomlinson'

Family: Apocynaceae (a-pos-ih-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Carissa (kar-ISS-uh) (Info)
Species: macrocarpa (ma-kro-KAR-pa) (Info)
Cultivar: Tomlinson

One member has or wants this plant for trade.

Edible Fruits and Nuts
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
This plant is resistant to deer
Provides winter interest
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Click thumbnail
to view:

By vossner
Thumbnail #1 of Carissa macrocarpa by vossner

By vossner
Thumbnail #2 of Carissa macrocarpa by vossner

By azrobin
Thumbnail #3 of Carissa macrocarpa by azrobin

By rntx22
Thumbnail #4 of Carissa macrocarpa by rntx22

By rntx22
Thumbnail #5 of Carissa macrocarpa by rntx22


5 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Twelve_tribes On Feb 6, 2010, Twelve_tribes from Greenacres, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I was walking around my college campus, and I smelled a very sweet smelling fragrance, and found this plant.

I took one of the Fruits, and brought it home, cut it open and took the seeds.

Should I dry them first? and then put them into a ziploc bag? I'd appreciate some help.

Positive rntx22 On Jul 18, 2009, rntx22 from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I just love this plant!! Every part of it is interesting. The leaves are beautiful; shiny dark green, evergreen, and have a neat shape. The small white flowers smell heavenly!! Reminds me a bit of gardenia or plumeria. I have not yet tried the fruit; right now they have just turned red, and I am waiting for them to ripen a bit more before picking them.

The plant I purchased is from Monrovia; the tag says it is a dwarf variety and is thornless. I have seen that it is not completely thornless, but only has a few small thorns. The fruit starts green and turns red as it matures.

Positive coecase On Jun 4, 2009, coecase from Merritt Island, FL wrote:

I have a Natal Plum grown from seed planted about five years ago. I got the seed from a plum that I ate! The plant is now about 5 feet tall. I have eaten many natal plums -- they have a sticky white glue-like juice, but the flavor is very good. I have many fruits on the plant now (June 4. 2009), some just starting to turn red. I trim many of the thorns to allow me access to the fruit without injury! I plan to try to harvest and dry the fruit when they mature. I'll report success - or failure!

Positive azrobin On Aug 6, 2008, azrobin from Scottsdale, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

I agree that this is the dwarf variety and VERY long thorns beneath the leaves. Flowers are fragrant and plant spreads nicely. Does not reseed or send out suckers, etc. Beautiful evergreen. This variety does not set fruit. In my zone 9, it will withstand winters around 30 degrees up to 115 degrees or so. Blooms in summer and spring. I have 5 in my garden.

Positive vossner On Sep 13, 2006, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

this is a dwarf variety and thornless. Leaves are round where the traditional carissa has oval leaves. A popular plant in seacoast gardens.
Aug 2008. transplanted summer 2007 and comparing my first pic with the 2nd pic, it has grown tons! Since we've had milder than usual weather, shrub has not been damaged, but I'm bracing myself for such eventuality. Flowers are indeed fragrant.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Scottsdale, Arizona
North Fork, California
Lake Worth, Florida
Houston, Texas
Mcallen, Texas
Richmond, Texas

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