Garden

Natal Plum - Carissa macrocarpa

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GeneralitŠ°

medium-sized evergreen shrub native to southern Africa. The species in nature reaches 4-5 meters in height, the varieties cultivated in Europe are more modest in size, and remain below two meters, there are also dwarf cultivars that do not exceed 100-150 cm in height. It has a rounded, very dense and branched growth habit; the stems are smooth, generally carry numerous sharp thorns, but there are cultivars without thorns; the foliage is shiny and thick, oval in shape, and of a bright dark green color. From spring to winter the carisse produce numerous white, star-shaped, waxy, delicately scented flowers; in summer the flowers are followed by small green, oval fruits, which develop up to the size of large plums, and when ripe they become fuchsia red in color. The plants of carissa macrocarpa are poisonous, both the leaves and the latex produced by the wood; ripe fruits are instead edible, and have a delicate flavor of strawberries or sweet currants.


Exposure

the plants of Carissa macrocarpa prefer sunny positions, but they can also bear slightly shaded positions, even if poor lighting causes poor flowering. These plants fear the frost, especially if prolonged, therefore they are grown in a place sheltered from the wind and frost; in areas with very harsh winters it is advisable to grow the the carissa macrocarpa in pot, so that you can move it in a cold greenhouse, or in a sheltered place, during the winter. There are some cultivars particularly resistant to the cold, which can be grown in the open ground even in the regions of northern Italy. These shrubs are not afraid of salinity and marine winds, therefore they can also be grown on the coasts.

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