Natal Plums Num Num

Natal Plum fruits nearly year round

Natal Plum: Incredible Edible Landscaping

A good reputation is hard to maintain when your closest relative has a reputation for killing people. That’s the public relation situation for the Natal Plum.

There are few foraged fruits that can match the Natal Plum in sheer deliciousness. Yet, it is a member of one of the most deadly plant families along side its cousin the Oleander, which makes headlines by fatally poisoning the unknowing and the suicidal.

Fruit is flecked with bits of latex

Officially known as Carissa macrocarpa (kuh-RISS-uh mack-roe-KAR-puh) the Natal Plum is part of the Dogbane family. The botanical name for that family is Apocynaceae which is Greek for “keep it away from the dog” meaning it kills them easily. It does us, too. Nearly all parts of the Natal Plum are poisonous, like the Oleander, except for the red-ripe fruit. They taste like a slightly sweet cranberry with the texture of a ripe strawberry — some say like a sightly unripe cherry. It’s surprising that someone hasn’t concocted a commercial fruit juice that tastes like the Natal Plum. If they mixed it with some orange juice it could be Natal Naval… lot of marketing possibilities there.

As for the Oleander, it is one of the deadliest shrubs in Florida, not the deadliest plant but certainly in the top three. It’s commonly used in landscaping along highways because it can tolerate heat and all the heavy metals and exhaust and other transportational effluvia vehicles spew such as rubber, asbestos, motor oil, grease, paint et cetera. Accidental and intentional deaths from Oleander poisoning are common. When you have a toxic relative like that, you can see how good side of the Natal Plum tends to get lost.

Double thorns help identification

Natal Plum copes well with salty winds, making it a good choice for coastal areas. It grows in mounds two to seven high and as wide. It’s tolerant of various lighting conditions and is a popular landscaping plant. Because of its double spines —a good identification characteristic —it makes a popular security hedge. The Natal Plum in the accompanying pictures came from a vacant commercial lot in Orlando. I drove past it often in the distance and curiosity upon seeing red prompted its discovery.  I’ve also seen it as a landscape plant inside the national Canaveral Seashore Park — across the road from the rangers’ headquarters on a sand dune — and in the dry hills of San Diego, California.

Natal Plums are often used in landscaping

Natal Plums have shiny, deep green leaves and snowy white flowers. Their scent intensifies at night and they bloom for months at a time. The fruit appears in summer and fall, or fall and winter in warmer climates, and at the same time as it blooms. In moderate climates the fruits can appear throughout the year and the ones shown were picked in Orlando, Fl., in early January. But I’ve also picked them in July. The fruit can be eaten off the bush or made into pies, jams, jellies, or even sauces. It is rich in Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. An analyses shows the fruit’s moisture is 78.45%; protein, 0.56%; fat, 1.03%; sugar, 12%; fiber, 0.91%; ash, 0.43%, and ascorbic acid 1 mg per 10 mg in weight…. meaning it is 10% vitamin C. That makes citrus look anemic.

Natal Plum seeds

There are  6 to 16 seeds in each fruit and each is about the size of one flat instant Quaker oat. Some references say they are toxic, but Professor Julia Morton — the first and final authority in Florida — says they are “not objectionable when eaten” and she writes the entire ripe fruit can be eaten as is. I eat them seeds and all and seem to be no worse for it.  A ripe fruit is one that is plum red and slightly soft to the touch. No peeling is necessary. Halved or quartered and seeded, it is suitable for fruit salads, gelatins and as topping for cakes, puddings and ice cream. One word of caution: Don’t cook the fruit in an aluminum pot. Stewing or boiling causes flakes of edible latex to leave the fruit and adhere to pots. It can be removed by rubbing with oil. Don’t like eating plant-made latex? Then also avoid fresh figs because they have it as well.

Carissa edulis, only ripe fruit is edible

Carissa edulis, only ripe fruit is edible

There are at least three other Carissas with edible fruit. C. bispinosa grows to 10 feet and has repeatedly forked spines.  One to two seeds, native to South Africa. Carissa carandas is a native of India, a sprawling or climbing shrub. Ripe fruit turns from wine red to black, lots of latex. Carissa edulis is often spineless, or with a few simple spines. Fruit red to reddish purple.

Carissa comes from the Sanskrit word “corissa” the local name of one the the species. Macrocarpa is Greek for large fruit. Carissa macrocarpa is called the Natal Plum because it is native to the Natal area of South Africa north to Mozambique.  The most common name for the plant outside of English is ‘num-num.’ The Zulu call it amatungulu —a marketing nightmare. Among others Africans, the fruit is called noem-noem, with the pronunciation starting with a clicking sound on the ‘N’.

The recipes are from  *The Rare Fruit and Vegetable Council Cookbook, by the Rare Fruit and Vegetable Council of Broward County, Inc., Davie, Florida (out of print) and

**Caloosa Rare Fruit Exchange Cookbook, Lois Sharpe. (The exchange still exists but their cookbook may not.)

Carissa Fruit Soup*

1¾ cups apple juice or cider

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

4 inch stick cinnamon, broken

4 whole cloves

Stir the above ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. Reduce heat and cook until clear, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add:

¾ cup orange sections

¾ cup grapefruit sections

½ cup seedless grapes

1 cup seeded, halved Carissa

Cover and chill overnight. Remove spices and stir well before serving cold. Makes 6 servings.

Carissa Pie*

1 pint Carissa (sliced crosswise)

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon margarine

½ cup sugar

½ cup water


Slice well-ripened Carissa into a deep, buttered, baking dish. Mix flour with sugar and sprinkle over the fruit. Dot lightly with margarine. Pour water over the mixture. Top with pastry, slit to allow steam to escape and bake at 450° for ten minutes, then at 425° for 20 minutes until fruit is cooked and pastry is brown. Serve hot with Carissa Sauce flavored with lemon juice or with vanilla.

Carissa Sauce*

Rinse fruit, cut in quarters. Take out seeds retaining pulp. Measure ½ cup sugar or sugar substitute to each cup cut carissas. Over low heat, cook the Carissa and sugar (no water added) until fruit is soft. Use as a sauce similar to cranberry sauce. For jellied sauce, add 2 tablespoons of water for each cup of Carissa. Cook until fruit is tender. Strain juice through jelly bag or a double layer of cheesecloth. Add to ½ cup sugar for each ¾ cup juice. Cook until thickened.

 Carissa Bread**

2 cups flour

1½ teaspoon baking powder

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 egg, well beaten

½ cup orange juice

2 tablespoons shortening, melted

2 tablespoons hot water

1½ cups carissa, seeded and chopped

1 orange rind, grated

½ cup chopped nuts

Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and soda. Add egg, orange juice, shortening, and hot water. Stir only until flour is moistened. Fold in Carissa, orange rind and nuts. Bake at 350° in greased and floured loaf pan for 45 minutes. Yield: 20 servings.

Carissa Hors D’oeuvres

Wash and drain fresh, ripe fruit. Split, remove seeds, and put on ice until shortly before serving. Stuff cavities with low-fat cottage cheese or light cream cheese. Place on a bed of shredded lettuce.

Jellied Carissa Salad*

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin

½ cup cold water

1½ cups boiling Carissa juice or juice and pulp

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1½ cups chopped celery

Sprinkle gelatin on cold water and let stand 5 minutes. Dissolve sugar, salt, and softened gelatin in boiling Carissa juice. Allow to cool and add lemon juice. When mixture begins to thicken, add chopped celery. Turn into a mold and chill. When firm, turn the mold onto a bed of shredded lettuce and garnish with light mayonnaise, if desired.

 Carissa Salad*

1 pound Carissa

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

4 teaspoons gelatin

½ cup cold water

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup diced apples

½ cup pecans

Cook Carissa in one of cup water until tender, strain and add sugar. Moisten gelatin in cold water. Add to sugar and Carissa. Stir until dissolved, then add celery, apples and nuts. Chill in the refrigerator and serve on lettuce.

Green Deane’s “Itemized” Plant Profile

IDENTIFICATION: Much branched evergreens, dense and rounded, wide canopy, sharp, branched spines, broken stem produces milky sap. Thick, glossy, dark green, opposite leaves, leathery texture. up to three inches. Waxy white, star-shaped blooms, two inches in diameter, five petals, borne in dense sprays, very aromatic.

TIME OF YEAR: In the right climate, it blooms and fruits all year. Heaviest fruiting in spring and summer.

ENVIRONMENT: Drought tolerant, can endure salty soil, salty winds and heat. Likes full sun but can tolerate some shade. Because of these qualities it is used — despite it spines and toxic foliage — as a landscaping plant, most often for for businesses.

METHOD OF PREPARATION:  Only the ripe fruit is edible, raw or cooked. The rest of the plant is very toxic. Watch out for the spines.

{ 75 comments… add one }
  • Anthony April 4, 2012, 10:38 am

    My Natal Plums are flowering like crazy but no fruit. Any suggestions Deane? SHould I hand pollinate?

    • Green Deane April 4, 2012, 12:52 pm

      Not every blossom turns into fruit. Hows the bee population around you?

  • Anthony April 5, 2012, 11:55 am

    The bees are in full effect, but they love the bananas right now. Weird, Surinam Cherries and Catttley Guavas are are covering the shrubs but my Natal’s and Cherry of rio grand cherry bushes have flowers, but no fruit. I will had pollinate tonight with a tiny artist brush.

  • Anthony June 1, 2012, 1:37 pm

    Finally one ripe Natal Plum! I will try it tonite when I get home since it was soft this morning.

  • Susan Scherr August 11, 2012, 5:47 pm

    Just want to be sure, when the fruit is ripe you can eat it whole- peel and all? These grow all over the island I live on! Thanks for your blog. Moving from a zone 3 to a zone 10 has opened up a world of possiblities for edible landscape!

    • Green Deane August 13, 2012, 8:19 am

      Yes, eaten whole, but they don’t have a peel but rather a thin skin.

  • Rachel September 6, 2012, 12:14 am

    I cut into one to try it. It tastes surprisingly fine for something that people normally don’t eat but you later find out is edible. The fruit did have some white sappiness to it that was a bit scarey considering its relationship to oleander. Is this the edible latex that you refered to and it has in common with figs? I’ve noticed some similar white sappiness in them. Thanks for the blog.

  • Cynthia September 14, 2012, 11:07 pm

    We have several natal plum shrubs that have been growing in our San Diego garden since 2003. These barely flower — let alone fruit — however, just a block away is a shrub growing just off the street at an abandoned lot. This shrub is so productive that for the past three years I’ve been harvesting fruit two times yearly for the purpose of making the most delicious jam. In fact, this week I pulled 300 (yeah, I count) fruits from this one shrub. Once stewed and pressed this particular harvest yielded TWO GALLONS of juice and pulp! Clearly, in our area, the more neglected the shrub, the better the harvest.

    • Adam November 20, 2013, 1:34 pm

      Cynthia, do you have a recipe for your natal plum jam? I’d love to give it a try.

    • Brad December 4, 2014, 2:15 am

      Hi Cynthia,
      We live on the Natal coast of South Africa and have thoroughly enjoyed this fruit from childhood to adulthood. Here we eat it raw. Having now found out that it can be cooked or processed into jams, puddings, juices, etc. We are trying to get recipes to try out. If you would be so kind as to share your recipes with us it would be much appreciated. We want to try pickling, jam-ing, chutneys, juicing and drying of any and all fruit and vegetables available to us.
      We live on a 10 Acre smallholding and are trying to live off our farm as much as possible. We also want as natural eating as possible without preservatives added to foods.
      Thank you for your time

  • Ben Blue October 12, 2012, 10:57 pm

    Wow thank you so much for the information! This has been an amazing help, These plants are grown all over Newport Beach, CA where I take the bus. There is this place called fashion island and near there are tons and tons of Carissa fruits and I took 3 semi ripe ones home today and wanted to look them up since I was wondering if they were okay to eat. I also think the thorns are pretty dang cool…So yeah, whenever I am waiting for the bus I can pick some fruit since everyone seems to ignore them and they are perfectly in season and there are tons of them!

  • Ka January 2, 2013, 10:15 am

    Hi Deane. I have an alergy to latex rubber and all the other stuff made of latex rubber. I can still eat these though, right? It has nothing to do with the other kind of latex, right? I would like to try these. I love trying new things.
    This website is awsome! I wish I knew about it a long time ago. Man, you did a great job organizing it. And thanks for the newsletter too.

    • Green Deane January 2, 2013, 11:15 am

      It’s a different latex base but always be careful first. Do you eat figs? They have latex.

  • Emily Anderson March 6, 2013, 9:48 pm

    Thank you so much! I have long wanted to know what this plant was : )

  • RW Akile April 10, 2013, 8:24 pm

    I have seen the plant growing profusely around Los Angeles. Santa Monica City Hall is an especially juicy location as is the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall. I have been eating the fruit in smoothies, salads, and off the bush. Dried the fruit is like raisins, “craisins”. It is known as a “Famine Breaker” because it grows wild from South Africa to Somalia and has been used as a fall back crop in famine prone environments.

  • Bill Case May 30, 2013, 2:16 pm

    I live on/in Merritt Island, Florida. I have a large natal plum plant – about 9 feet high. It blooms and produces fruit year round. I often eat them as I pick a few, but I have dried them for several years in a dehydrator. I cut in half and remove the seeds, rinse them in water and dry the halves.

    • N Allen April 26, 2014, 6:02 pm

      I’m in Merritt Island, too. I rooted one from a cutting that I took from a neighboring bush. I’m growing it as a small tree. I’ve eaten about a dozen plums, so far. They were good! And I remember, as a child growing up in Cocoa Beach, hearing that they were poisonous… I’m so relieved to know that they’re not! I grow Surinam, Grumichama, Pitomba, and Barbados cherries, as well.

    • Jason June 6, 2018, 12:35 am

      I live in Titusville, I would like to check out your Natal Plum and maybe take a clipping to try and root a new plant from it. They sound like a neat fruit. If you are okay with this give me a call. 321-747-7733

  • Elizabeth July 12, 2013, 3:54 pm

    Just found this beauty behind my house in the dunes of North Hutchinson Island. loaded with fruit and ready for harvest. I’m so excited to finally identify it!!! 🙂

    loved reading how excited everyone was/is to enjoy this fruit, thanks for sharing!

  • richard graham October 21, 2013, 5:34 pm

    Have about 5 natal plants started lastwinter in my greenhouse. Live outside Atlanta. Will they over winter outside. Also have cherimoya,naranjella, rose applw, mex breadfruit and many more—boy am I having fun.

  • Syed December 18, 2013, 6:23 pm

    Are they related to Cranberries? Can they be used to make juices like Cranberries?

    • Green Deane December 18, 2013, 9:16 pm

      Are they related to cranberries? No, not at all. Different families from very different parts of the world. I’ve never tried making them into juice. I just eat them. They do have a little bit of latex so they might always be cloudy and fleckie.

  • Christine January 7, 2014, 12:27 am

    I live in LA and these plants were everywhere but I didn’t know they were edible! I spotted a ripe num num the other day and after triple checking, tasted it. It was delicious (so sweet and tangy) but I forgot about the latex and freaked out when I saw white liquid ooze from the bite, convinced I ate a poisonous version of the fruit. After a couple hours, still alright and now I’m craving more num nums. Too bad most gardeners don’t even allow their shrubs to flower let alone bear fruit 🙁

  • Yvonne Poynter January 19, 2014, 1:36 pm

    We have a thriving bush in Costa del sol flowers and fruits year round on neglect have eaten the fruit now looking forward to trying the recipes

  • Richard Wilk March 15, 2014, 12:32 am

    Natal plum makes a seriously good pie. I used the same recipe as for a cherry pie.

  • Brenda March 28, 2014, 7:51 pm

    can a natal plum be successfully grown in pots or planters?

  • poenie duvenage April 8, 2014, 5:46 am

    please i am looking for n jam recipe tocook some “noem noem” jam i can get n lot of the fruit but have no recipe. if somebody can help me i will very be very thankfull. my sel no is 0724314850 have a nice day

    • Louis Raubenheimer August 14, 2016, 7:03 am

      See my recipe of num-num jelly further up. It is really delicious with red meat.
      I forgot to say: One should add some lemon juice as well.
      I tried to make jam, but it did not turn out very well. Too much fibre. That is why I tried jelly.

  • sai April 8, 2014, 4:21 pm

    I live in L.A where can I find this plant or fruit from this plant?

    • Green Deane April 9, 2014, 9:13 am

      Hard to say as I live several thousand miles away. It is a very common landscaping plant near the ocean in dry areas. I would look around oceanside hotels, myself. When I last visited San Diego I found them all over the place.

    • Tara December 5, 2014, 4:35 pm

      You can find them in the beach communities.

  • Jackalope April 9, 2014, 6:41 pm

    Vintage Green Farms ( has a variegated cultivar (Jen’s Beauty) that’s $10 and very pretty. They have great prices and lots of other exotics that make the $16 per box shipping fee worth it. Myself, I got my natal plum seeds from fruits I found growing wild in Hawaii.

  • Joan Robinson, BERMUDA May 10, 2014, 4:29 pm

    This plant grows here just about year round, as children we called it Japanese Plums. Must try some of the recipies.

  • Forrest May 20, 2014, 9:53 am

    Do these plums grow in New England at all?

    • Green Deane May 20, 2014, 6:31 pm

      Not outside. Way too cold.

      • Willem Pretorius February 1, 2018, 6:15 am

        Hi Dean I live in Harrismitn South Africa and our temperatures range from minus 12C to about 40C under extreme co nditions with the occasional snow would the Natal Plum survive under those conditions. Thanks.

  • Jim June 11, 2014, 4:45 pm

    I have 5 Carissa’s in my yard. I planted them in the hopes of obtaining a lot of fruit. Only one plant puts out fruit. Any idea what the problem is with the other 4?

  • Green Gene June 22, 2014, 12:26 pm

    I ate so much of this yummy fruit fresh and as a fish sauce back in the 70s that I got sick of them. But I’m on the lookout to eat them again.

  • Teresa Hoover September 10, 2014, 9:25 pm

    Where can I see some growing in Miami-Dade?

    • Green Deane September 11, 2014, 1:21 pm

      I don’t know specifically. But if you go walking along residential area near the coast you should find plenty of it. For a specific location an fellow on facebook named Andy Firk might be able to tell you as he lived there many years.

    • gerardo martin sola October 2, 2016, 2:43 pm

      Hi, Marissa, I live in Fort Lauderdale and we have some natal plums very close to the Galt Ocean Mile, close to A1A and Oakland Blvd.
      If you want, I can give you the exact adress to find them. They are very good!

  • Asia October 8, 2014, 12:04 pm


    I have been trying to find carissa edulis seeds or plants in the US. for awile and was wondering if you can help? I am not looking for Carissa macrocarpa, but Carissa Edulis/Simple Spined Num Num. Please let me know. Thanks!



  • Bobby February 13, 2015, 10:45 am

    The ECHO information claims they also tolerate waterlogged situations, although none of the other google top hits assert this claim. Does anyone have personal experience seeing these grow in seasonally flooded land that commonly occur in the Pine flatwoods of southwest florida?


    • Green Deane February 13, 2015, 9:12 pm

      I have never — never — seen a Natal Plum in anything but well-drained sandy soil.

    • adier.Maguar October 13, 2016, 8:48 am

      Truth is I have alot of experience and sufficient exposure to the plant. It tolorates botu terrestrial and aguatic situations

  • kim dargan March 12, 2015, 7:43 pm

    I don’t have website, I am a member of davesgarden. I am looking for a Natal plum to purchase or trade. I had one around 2007-2008 but lost it and would like to replace the one that I lost. Thanks.

  • Bip April 1, 2015, 2:02 am

    Carissa Macrocarpa, aka Natal Plum, is sold and grown widely here in the desert in the Palm Springs, California region, mainly for its attractive, dark green shiny evergreen foliage. The fragrant pretty flowers are a bonus, and the edible fruit is a double-bonus!!

  • Sovann Sok April 3, 2015, 11:16 am

    Natal plum can be eaten while it still green. When it is picked, clean and left it sits in water 15 to 20 minutes to allow the latex come out of the fruits a little bit. Mixed salt and dried chilli together and dip the plum into it. When it still green, it has sort of sour taste to it that why it’s besy to dip it with salt and chilli.

    You can also brine it green like pickles. Anyone like brine fruits, recommend this plum. You will like it.

  • Shauna Stanford April 3, 2015, 2:53 pm

    I stumbled across this plant and the amazingly delicious fruits at a residential place in Camarillo CA. This is Ventura County. I picked some of the fruits and took them home and no one that I showed them to had any idea what they were. I am surprised that these fruits are not well known at all, but they are delightful and thank you for your website I may not have ever figured out what they were otherwise! My daughter Fionah is 19 months and she is particularly fond of the less ripe fruit which has much more milky sap then the riper ones.

    • Green Deane April 3, 2015, 7:28 pm

      I agree.They really are a nice fruit to eat and the plant is very tolerant of environmental abuse. About a decade ago business took me to San Diego and I saw the Natal Plums used in landscaping everywhere.

  • Tony May 4, 2015, 9:02 am

    I grow the trees in Somerset West, Cape Town, South Africa. Our climate is warm (25-40 degrees C)in our dry summer and cool (7-12 C) wet winters. Edible Num Num can be identified by its forked thorns. The sauce is fantastic with duck breast.

  • Rhamses Morales May 13, 2015, 8:53 pm

    I live here in Cieneguilla Peru where we have a semi-tropical weather and and sandy dry soil.l have few plants of carissa and they are really beautiful plants.I have tasted the plums and ate them.They are very delicious.Before I was afraid they were poisonous but I´m still alive and ready to have more of it.I really love this evergreen plant and have planted many more.The first one I planted is almost 7 feet tall,it has white flowers and many plums.After reading more about this plant Im sure I will keep on growing Carissa shrubs.Thank you very much for all the information you wrote about this almost unknown plant here en Cieneguilla Peru and hopefully many fellowcountrymen residing in theUSA will spread the word and miths about this plant.Thanks again.

  • Donna June 30, 2015, 2:50 pm

    I grew up in Whittier, CA (Los Angeles Co) and these plants are EVERYWHERE as public & private landscaping. My 6th grade teacher Mr. Klure took us on a walking tour of the school and showed us the Natal Plum and said it was edible. It’s taken me 30 years to try it because I too was spooked by the milky discharge. There are a crazy amount of ripe fruits growing all around the Santa Anita YMCA in Monrovia right now. I picked one today and am going to take it home to try it — may be back to harvest more tomorrow!

  • Louis Raubenheimer July 27, 2015, 9:00 am

    I live in the Western Cape, South Africa.
    I have been making num-num jelly for the last ten years. I developed my own recipe:
    Fruit can be picked from very firm to over-ripe. Rinse with water.
    Weigh the fruit.
    Place in stainless steel pot and cover with water.
    Boil till the fruit is very soft. Crush to get all the juice out.
    Pour through a cloth.
    Put the pulp back in the pot, add some water and boil again. Pour through the cloth again.
    Pour the filtered juice in a clean pot.
    Add sugar: 50% of the original weight of the num-nums.
    Boil until jelly starts forming. Test by placing a drop on a saucer which has been cooled down in a freezer.
    At the slightest sign of jelly forming, remove from the heat. The juice will still look very liquid, but it contains a lot of pectin.
    Pour into glass jars while hot. Seal.

    This jelly will taste quite sour, but is particularly good with red meat and venison.
    If too much sugar is added, it tends to taste rather ordinary.
    If the jelly has been standing for more than a year, sugar may crystallise out. Simply put the jar (without lid) in a microwave and heat the jelly to boiling point. It will be as good as new.

  • Ejiofor August 31, 2015, 5:52 pm

    My mouth has been watering as these are in San Diego and finally have found a few sites with pictures of the fruit. All I can say is I’ll probably be the only one eating them. More for me!!!!!!!!!

  • Alison M Zammit Endrich December 12, 2016, 11:11 am

    I am from the Mediterranean island of Malta.
    The Carissa Macrocarpa is being grown in numerous places all over the island, mainly for landscaping purposes. I was intreagued by the fruit and tasted it after I had read your wonderful article above.
    I was recently told, however that as the plant is not native to Malta, it could be possible that under local conditions, in our soil, the plant may produce potentially toxic substances that may be stored in the fruit, therefore should not be eaten.
    I would really appreciate any feedback on this matter.

    • Green Deane December 14, 2016, 5:24 pm

      It it doesn’t happen to other non-natives I doubt it would happen with the Natal Plum.

      • Alison M Zammit Endrich December 21, 2016, 9:25 am

        Thanks for your reply. That’s what I think too.
        Another question: Why do some Carissa Macrocarpa plants have much larger fruit and leaves? Both are quite small bushes. Is it a male/female thing?

        • Pouletic March 19, 2017, 1:04 am

          I’ve never noticed that in the natal plum, but if a plant of the same species has consistently larger fruit, flowers and leaves it is usually a sign of tetraploidy, meaning it has a duplicate copy of all the chromosomes (there are two of each in a “normal” plant, so when doubled it’s 4, hence “tetra”). This can happen very rarely by accident in the reproductive process of plants, and it renders the new plant incompatible with the original diploid plants, which technically makes it a new species. A tetraploid Key Lime is known and i tried to obtain one for quite a while. Bigger leaves and fruit is usually a good thing…

  • Mez December 17, 2016, 3:41 pm

    We live in Melbourne Australia which is cold temperate zone. Someone gave us a natal plum to try growing and we were very sceptical as this area is mostly a heavy clay soil. We planted it in a raised bed that has had lots of soil added but has turned waterproof and quite sandy due to pittospurums next door draining all the water. It’s taken 4 years but we finally had fruit last year and this. Very small harvest compared to others here but considering it is right outside it’s preferred growing zone, we were excited. The flowers smell amazing and the fruit is really delicious. Didn’t realise they polinate better in pairs so will go and get another and see if that helps with fruiting. Thanks for this website and all the great ideas everyone.

  • Alison M Zammit Endrich December 22, 2016, 9:09 am

    So since it is Christmas I decided to invent my own Carissa mince strudel recipe. Try it!!


    750gr Carissa plums, washed and chopped.
    1 jar of mince meat
    1 or 2 apples peeled, cored and chopped
    rind of tangerine grated
    walnuts chopped
    swig of orange liquor.
    Sweet shortcrust pastry
    Mix together
    Pile on to ready rolled out sweet shortcrust pastry
    Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour mixed with 1/2 cup of sugar over the top on mixture.
    Close up the pastry.
    Place on greased pan, cook in the oven until browned.
    Temp. 200degrees C

  • Libby January 1, 2017, 4:41 pm

    I picked some next to a hotel we stayed at in Melbourne, Florida last week (funny that someone from Melbourne, Australia is also eating them!). I identified them from many photos and descriptions on the web. Today I made jelly with the fruit I brought home. I carefully cut out the seeds, leaving me with about 2 Cups of fruit; added lemon juice and rind, and about a cup of sugar. I didn’t have any pectin in the house but I cooked it for a long time and it seems to have set up nicely. Maybe the latex helps it set? The flavor is a lot like cranberry to me and it has a very pretty color.
    Needless to say I love to gather wild foods and I have a very patient family who sat in the car while I “harvested” the carissa fruit!

  • Kathryn March 16, 2017, 5:43 pm

    I’m at our house in Puerto Pensaco, Mexico at the North end of the of Cortez on the mainland side. We have one and have had it for over ten years. We have intense hear in the summer since this is Sonoran desert, constant salty winds and sand since we are right on the beach. It grows like crazy and us one of the few plantings to do really well. I only looked it up now since we just bought two more. The big one fruits but not all that much. Maybe having others will help. We have lots of bees
    I can’t wait to try out recipes ! Numnum

  • Denise March 18, 2017, 12:23 am

    yeah I now know what these are called. They’re used in landscaping all over san diego, we had one outside our door growing up, mom used the berries in fruit salad. When my husband and I were talking about putting one on our patio, we couldn’t find it! even though they’re a popular landscape bush around here, no nursery we checked with had them or knew what we were talking about. Now that we have a name, maybe we can find one.

  • HARRIETTE FISHER May 8, 2017, 9:39 pm

    I live on Ambergris Caye in Belize, Central America. A neighbor has a long row of these growing on the ‘other’ side of their fence. They put out a lot of runners. With permission we dug up a bunch and planted them along a cart path. They grew quickly. Then the government came in with a bull dozer and ‘opened’ up the road. There went our Natal Plums.
    We just harvested some from the neighbors and want to make a sauce. I am known for my very good cranberry sauces – this year I’ll surprise our neighborhood Thanksgiving pot luck with Num Num.

  • Teresa Hoover March 23, 2018, 9:45 am

    We planted over 30 Natal in our backyard (no fences allowed). We need more, but our Nursery ran out of them. 🙁

  • Dr Mariénne Uys June 1, 2018, 3:59 pm

    We have recently introduced Num-Num wild jam to the buyer’s market. We use the recipe perfected by an excellent cordon-bleu cook. A brilliant chemical engineer, Cornelis Frank Uys, did research on the excellent qualities of the fruit harvested by the Khoi-San, an indigenous people of South Africa, long before the first Dutch settlers arrived in the Cape of Good Hope in 1652. The jam is an excellent accompaniment to cheese and meat.

  • Timothy Coleman October 12, 2018, 1:22 pm

    I have a tree growing in a very large pot on my terrace in Spain. It is covered with flowers and/or fruit practically year round. I have made jam with them; it is delicious but who eats jam regularly these days. I am trying an experiment of drying them in my machine to add to muesli throughout the winter. Does anybody have any experience of drying natal plums?

  • Tim October 13, 2018, 11:12 am

    Posted yesterday but hasn’t appeared so reposting today. I have a natal plum tree growing in a very large pot against a south-facing wall. Every year it is covered in fruit that I usually leave for the birds, though for some reason, they don’t seem keen on them. This year I have tried the experiment of drying them in my drying machine. They are delicious! It has concentrated the taste and the sweetness. I look forward to a couple throughout the winter on my daily muesli.

  • Louis February 18, 2019, 4:56 pm

    I am about to make homemade wine out of Natal Plum and Orange Jasmine Fruit. I searched the web for over an hour and could not find anything. Any suggestions?

  • Carl April 4, 2019, 2:42 am

    Does anyone know if it’s safe to eat the plums when they’re not fully ripe? Mostly red but still a fair amount of green?

    • Green Deane April 9, 2019, 7:37 pm

      I would avoid all but the very ripe plums. They could be toxic unripe.


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