isiXhosa: Umthungulu

Afrikaans: Grootnoem-noem



Carissa macrocarpa

Scientific name

This is a fast growing shrub, able to survive the coastal winds. A traditional food plant, this little-known fruit has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.

Carissa macrocarpa is quite easy to grow. Its seeds germinate 2 to 4 weeks after sowing. The development of the seedlings is very slow at first. Plants cultivated from seeds are bearing fruits within the first 2 years. A vegetative propagation is possible and preferred. The most efficient method consists of notching young branchlets by cutting them halfway through. Then they are bent downwards and allowed to hang limply. After the young branchlets have built a callus, in approximately 2 months, the cutting has to be removed from the parent and planted in sand under moderate shade. Roots form within one month. Carissa macrocarpa will produce fruits within the first 2 years applying this reproduction method.

IsiZulu: Amatungulu | IsiXhosa: umthungulu | English: Natal plum; Big num num | | Afrikaans: Grootnoem-noem

Propagation instructions

By seed

It is best grown from seed, but can also be grown from cuttings. Fill the seed tray with soil and compact lightly. Treat seed with a pre-emergence fungicide and sow in the tray, cover the seed with a thin layer of soil or compost and water well. Store tray in a wind-free area. Once germinated, replant seedlings into well-composted soil. Seedlings can be fed with a liquid fertilizer.

By cutting

Plant 1 m apart to form a dense, impenetrable hedge in full sun to semi-shade in good garden soil, enriched with compost. It can be pruned if necessary.

References and further reading

PlantZAfrica profile »

Wikipedia page »

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Seedbank Quantity
Tin Capsule Seedbank 2
Total 2
Nursery Quantity
Gaenor's Nursery 5
Total 5

This table below shows how many plants we are trying to obtain for this species.

Site Area Quantity
Site #1 Delft 2
Site #7 Delft 2
Site #11 Delft 6
Site #61 Claremont 5
Total 15

Important characteristics

Conservation status: Least Concern

This species was selected because it has various important characteristics.

This is a bird-friendly species

It provides medicinal value



Easy to grow

It provides food for:


Carissa macrocarpa is indigenous to: Cape Flats Dune Strandveld

This species is not very suitable to be grown in bare terrain. However, if other vegetation is already established then it makes a good addition. After a year of care, little watering will be necessary.

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