The ornamental, evergreen Carissa macrocarpa is indigenous to South Africa, naturally occurring in bush and forests along our coastline. This versatile shrub that reaches up to 4 m in height can be trimmed to form a hedge or shaped into a small tree.
The leaves are glossy and provide the perfect backdrop for the starry white flowers. Reminiscent or the jasmine flower in shape, the Num-num flowers are also scented with an orange blossom like fragrance. At night this sweet smell intensifies and during the day birds and butterflies are attracted to the flowers. The flowering season generally lasts from September to March, but flowers can sometimes be found all year round.
Large, oval shaped fruit that matures to a shiny red are found on the plant from November to August. These fruits are edible, although much more palatable when made into a preserve like jam. It must be noted that the ripe fruit, excluding the seeds, are the only edible part of the Num-num. The tree has distinctive, twice forked sturdy thorns which make it an excellent security barrier when planted as a hedge.
The Caprissa macrocarpa grows equally well in sun or shade and has a non-aggressive root system. Originating from the coastal areas, the plant can tolerate windy conditions and salt spray, but is sensitive to frost if planted in an exposed area. This is a sturdy, low maintenance garden plant that can be used as a specimen shrub in a smaller garden or even as a container plant.