Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Natal Plum
Carissa macrocarpa

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

Synonym:Carissa grandiflora

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

14 members have or want this plant for trade.


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

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:
Sun to Partial Shade

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:
Blooms all year


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

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:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
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

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By Ulrich
Thumbnail #1 of Carissa macrocarpa by Ulrich

By IslandJim
Thumbnail #2 of Carissa macrocarpa by IslandJim

By Ulrich
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By NativePlantFan9
Thumbnail #7 of Carissa macrocarpa by NativePlantFan9

There are a total of 31 photos.
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13 positives
3 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral babyprep On Jul 11, 2014, babyprep from Homestead, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

Just ordered some seeds from Indonesia where they probably haven't been hybridized... Will this work?

Positive jocy1220 On Mar 12, 2013, jocy1220 from Las Pinas
Philippines wrote:

This plant has always being used in our country as ornamental plants together with plumbago; i seldomly water it, around once every 2 days and loves the sun. This morning, after 5 years on our garden, i noticed the plumlike fruit of it and was hesitant to pick it up at first as i know there are poisonous berries around. So i searched thru the net and boy I was so glad to have found it here on your site. And yes, the aroma of the flowers are very addicting - like jasmine. I still don't know if i would taste the fruit...

Positive edric On Jun 5, 2012, edric from Oak Hill, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

there's a few people growing these just south of Daytona bch. FL, they survived three nights at 25 degrees, and my brother has them, (came with the house when they bought it 15 years ago), they're doing great produce lots of fruit, and also survived three nights at 25 degrees, they must dry out thoroughly in between waterings, once fully grown, full sun, water sparingly, Ed

Negative MVE13 On May 8, 2011, MVE13 from Houston, TX wrote:

The thorns are terrible and the plants, while drought tolerant, never produced any fruits. Also not tolerant of any freezes. I finally removed them from my garden.

Positive hortulaninobili On Jan 16, 2011, hortulaninobili from St. Louis, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

Carissa macrocarpa:

My growing region does not allow growing Natal Plum outdoors all year long. Thus, I have grown this plant successfully in a large container, moved outdoors in summer and indoors in winter. I originally purchased a small plant from Missouri Botanical Garden several years ago. Growth rate is on average fast, especially if a regular watering and fertilizer schedule is maintained.

For indoor (predominantly for folks residing in regions outside of reported hardiness zones) growth, i.e., winter, in the past I always kept in an unheated but not freezing garage. This allows plant respiration and metabolism to slow to near dormancy. This in mind, with dry air, and plant growing in container, keep a watch out the plant does not dry out completely.

I have learned from my mistake by not heeding my own advice. I neglected to water my Natal Plum for about three weeks while dormant. Suffice it to say, it wasn't that drought tolerant!

Otherwise, if proper attention is afforded to it, one can create bonsai with it, a topiary, or a durable potted plant. Flowers in my experience never too prolific, nor did fruits ever develop. Occasional aphids were observed on new growth, but quickly destroyed by predatory wasps.

Positive leita On Jun 28, 2010, leita from Rockport, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Natal plums are common in Rockport/Corpus landscapes and do indeed have small seeds--about 13 per fruit and the size of a slightly flattened BB --clustered in the center of the fruit. Pretty to look at, delightful aroma.

Positive coecase On Jun 10, 2009, coecase from Merritt Island, FL wrote:

My Natal Plum plant, grown from seed, is now producing significant numbers of fruit. When bright red (ripe), I am splitting them, removing the seeds, rinsing them, then drying them in my dehydrator. They dry nicely and I love the taste.
Who reported not grown from seed?
Who reported poisonous?
Update: 6/4/2014 My plant is so big and fast growing I will have it removed! I have kept it trimmed down to about 10 feet high, but I believe it would grow to twenty feet at least! It is loaded with still green fruit and has been for several years.
Bill Case, Merrritt Island, FL

Positive goofybulb On Jun 15, 2008, goofybulb from El Paso, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Beautiful, dark green shiny leaves and jasmine-like starred flowers that spread a sweet jasmine-like scent, it is used here in Miami for landscaping. One can keep it potted (like me) with the same success. It can provide a natural thief-repelling fence, due to its strong thorns and the natural bushiness. It can be easily rooted from cuttings, and it's not fussy about the soil either. It successfully survives the humidity of the South Florida climate, and it doesn't mind the rain, as long as the soil has drainage.
So if "you want a jasmine" but you have a brown thumb, here's your choice!

Positive Lonne99 On May 7, 2007, Lonne99 from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

My Natal plum seems to enjoy the heavy rains we have been experiencing here in Houston, despite the fact it is supposed to prefer a drier climate; in fact, it blooms more when its feet are wet.

Positive Bairie On Mar 18, 2007, Bairie from Corpus Christi, TX (Zone 10a) wrote:

I've known the natal plum for about 25 years, since I moved to Corpus Christi. It's used extensively here in public places and in private yards. I have never seen it get invasive. I bought two for the backyard where I moved to in December (07). The yard is mostly shade, so I have chosen trees and shrubs that are shade tolerant and can be used for wildlife shelter or food. I hope the natal plums will produce in light shade, but if it doesn't it will make a good shelter for the birds that make their nests in impenetrable (to dogs,etc.) shrubs. I'm trying to attract mocking birds--I love them. I'm using native plants and a few naturalized ones--it's a large yard and I want a Texas wildscape! Any suggestions are welcome.

Positive brugmansialover On May 24, 2005, brugmansialover from Santa Maria, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I've always loved Natal Plum... I recently got a Natal Plum called "Fancy" It has grown very well over the past few months, it is very fast! It will get tall to, about 5 feet! I fertilize it about every other week... And it does respond well to that! It blooms so beautifully and just pops out fruit like crazy!!! I needed something in my back yard, where there is an open area going from my backyard to the street... Now ive been looking for something to keep trespassers out of my yard... I am constantly telling people to get out.. I thought of everything, but I needed something that would discourage them, and make them think twice.. Well the Natal Plum does that... soon it will be big enough to fill the void, between my garden and the street, and then no one will want to try to trespass, its because of the sharp thorns.. You really cant see them, but if you walk near, or into the bush, you sure will feel them!!! Hahahaha, I cant wait for someone to try it and finally get the hint to "STAY OUT" My newly planted Natal Plum will be a sure reminder to anyone who wants to try and come in my yard, not to!!! I love you Natal Plum..

Neutral NativePlantFan9 On Nov 13, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

A house next to our house has lots of it in the front and some around the side and/or in the back. At first, I didn't know what type of plant it was. I noticed that it had very sweet-smelling, perfume-like white flowers that smelled very much like jasmine (That's what I thought the plant was at first). It also has sharp thorns or tips on the leaves - OUCH! It was very interesting-looking and it grew as a large, thicket-forming spiny bush or large shrub. Before I found out that it was actually a plant clled the Natal Plum here and on the ISB Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants, I saw that it was displaying a small, apple-like fruit that I didn't know was edible so I didn't taste it. Now it is displaying some of those fruits again. It is somewhat invasive here in my south Florida area in zone 10 as well as all across parts of south Florida. It is a very attractive-looking shrub with very nice dark green leaves and very beautiful white, jasmine-like flowers that look and smell like jasmine flowers. The fruit provides a striking contrast as well. Despite that this plant may become invasive and the fact that is on the Exotic Pest Plant Council's List Category Two, and that it is *OUCH!!!* sharp, I still like this plant! However, I still am cautious because it can become invasive.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 28, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Natal plum prefers a sandy, well-drained soil. It responds well to close pruning and is easily kept at any size. Many of the cultivars have a tendency to produce branches that revert to the species characteristics, so it may be necessary to prune frequently to prevent the cultivar from reverting completely.

Natal plum does best and produces the most flowers (very fragrant, by the way) when positioned in full sun, but it tolerates partial shade.

Positive LynneSun On Jul 8, 2004, LynneSun from Cape Town

Carissa is indigenous to South Africa & specifically KwaZulu-Natal, where its common name is Amatumgulu (Zulu). KwaZulu is a subtropical region and Carissa is incredibly hardy so it should grow like a bomb anywhere with a similar climate.

Positive punaheledp On Jul 7, 2004, punaheledp from Kailua, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

My mother had one, grown as a small tree (she kept it for the birds, they liked it) and one of her neighbors had a low hedge (definitely impenetrable!) White star-like flowers show nicely against dark green folliage. Yes, the fruit is edible. If I could have everything I like in my yard I'd have this.

Positive WalterT On May 6, 2004, WalterT from San Diego, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Have never heard before that plant is poisonous and Sunset Western Garden book does not mention it. I have been eating the fruit for 70 years. It is delicious when dark red and fully ripe. There are thornless varieties available. Likes full sun and does not tolerate much frost. WTH - San Diego

Negative purrforlove On May 5, 2004, purrforlove from Laguna Beach, CA wrote:

The thorns are very long (3/4" - 1", 1.5cm. - 2 cm.) and strong! I trimmed a natal plum bush and didn't sweep up my driveway well enough - subsequently drove over a two-pronged set of thorns; found a thorn lodged in a tire on my punctured the sidewall and I had to get a new tire!!! These bushes are evil! Great for an impenetrable hedge, I suppose.

Positive palmbob On Apr 1, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Spiny plant- great hedge plant, especially for areas you don't want someone to go through. Easily groomed into about any shape you want. Very commonly used as such in Southern California- see it all over the malls and public landscaping areas. Flowers produce a wonderful jasmine-like scent that was one of the first plant smells I actually liked, long before I ever thought I'd be interested in plants.


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

Kingman, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports)
Sun City West, Arizona
Carlsbad, California
San Diego, California (2 reports)
San Marino, California
Santa Cruz, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Bartow, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Hollywood, Florida (2 reports)
Homestead, Florida (2 reports)
Kissimmee, Florida
Lake Worth, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Maitland, Florida
Marathon, Florida
Melbourne Beach, Florida
Miami, Florida (2 reports)
Naples, Florida
Oak Hill, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Saint Augustine, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Sun City Center, Florida
Tarpon Springs, Florida
Venice, Florida
Honolulu, Hawaii
Columbus, Ohio
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Houston, Texas (4 reports)
Mcallen, Texas

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