Natal Plum, Carissa grandiflora, which is also known as “Green Carpet” is a xeriscapic, evergreen, perennial tree. This tree or shrub is drought tolerant, requires very little water, stays green year round and lives for more than 2 years if all its conditions are met. It also produces thorns, blooms and fruit.
Blooms and Leaves:
Natal Plum blooms are white, shaped like a star and will occur in the spring, summer and fall each year. the flowers of this plant are not only beautiful but they are fragrant as well.
Natal Plum can reach heights of up to 8 feet, but are often used as Bonsai trees. These trees are evergreen, have oval shaped leaves and are a very rich green in color.
Natal Plum trees produce dark red plums that are about 2 inches in size. These plums are grown after the blooms or flowers of the tree.
Caring for a Natal Plum includes knowing where to place it in the landscape. This area will need to be a place where the plant will get full sunlight or where it can get at least 4 hours of sunlight. It can tolerate soil that is salty, a southeast wind that is constant, some sandblasting, stormy winds and salt spray. All these factors make it perfect for a beach landscape. It also requires very little water and is susceptible to root rot.
The soil that the Natal Plum does well in is easy to find. It can be from soil that is mild acidic to soil that is mild alkaline.
Propagating a Natal Plum can be done from just about any cutting. This would include herbaceous stem cuttings, woody stem cuttings, softwood cuttings and semi-hardwood cuttings. This plant does not set seeds and all the flowers found on these plants are sterile so cuttings are the only way to propagate.
Natal Plum trees have several different uses. They are the perfect tree for a beginner bonsai project, but that is not all. The fruit from these trees taste similarly to cranberries and has the texture of ripe strawberries. This fruit can be used to make jams and jellies, however, the other parts of this tree are poisonous. These trees have double spines or thorns on their limbs which make them a good hedge plant. This could be an interesting plant to have in a landscape, but it would definitely have to be carefully managed considering that there are parts of it that are poisonous.
Texas A&M University
The University of Florida