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Family: Apocynaceae

Scientific name: Carissa macrocarpa

Authority: (Eckl.) A.DC.

Synonyms: Arduina grandiflora E.Mey., Arduina macrocarpa Eckl., Carissa africana A.DC., Carissa carandas Lour., Carissa grandiflora (E.Mey.) A.DC., Carissa praetermissa Kupicha, Jasminonerium africanum (A.DC.) Kuntze, Jasminonerium grandiflorum (E.Mey.) Kuntze, Jasminonerium macrocarpum (Eckl.) Kuntze.

Zulu names: amathungulu, umthungulu, umthungulu obomvu, umqhubankunzi

Other names: Natal plum, large num num (English) noem-noem (Afrikaans)

Plant description: C. macrocarpa is a small evergreen shrub that grows to between 3 to 4 m in height. It has dark green glossy, forked (y-shaped) thorns at the tips, milky latex, star-shaped sweetly scented white flowers, and edible berry-like fruits that turn bright red when ripe, which are rich in vitamin C, Calcium, and Magnesium. The plant is native to South Africa but is distributed globally.


  • The edible fruits are eaten as food. The ripe fruits are used to make jams, sauces, desserts, yoghurt, jellies, and ice cream.
  • The ripe fruits are used to make pinkish dyes.
  • The dried and powdered plants are used as isihlungu.
  • The dried and powdered plants are inhaled to treat a headache.
  • The plant is used to treat boils.
  • The roots are administered as an emetic.
  • The leaves are used to treat coughs.
  • The plant is used as an immune booster in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). 
  • The plant is used to treat venereal disease, such as hepatitis. 
  • The plant is used to heal a broken or fractured bone.
  • The plant is used in the preparation or cooking with meat.
  • The leaves are used to treat diarrhoea in livestock.
  • The plant is cultivated as a hedge and an ornamental.

Safety precaution:

Using traditional medicine responsibly can enhance your overall health and well-being. Misuse and abuse can lead to complications. You can inquire about the correct use of traditional medicine from a knowledgeable herbalist and practitioner. You can also visit or email: to learn more about traditional medicine

References and further reading: 

  • Abbas, M., Rasool, N., Riaz, M., Zubair, M., Abbas, M., Noor-Ul-Haq and Hayat, N., 2014. GC-MS profiling, antioxidant, and antimicrobial studies of various parts of Carissa grandiflora. Bulgarian Chemical Communications, 46(4), pp.831-839.
  • Allam, K.M., El-kader, A., Adel, M., Fouad, M.A. and Mostafa, M.A., 2021. Phytochemical and Biological Studies of Carissa macrocarpa, F. Apocyanaceae. Journal of advanced Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 4(1), pp.56-64.
  • Khalil, H.E., Aljeshi, Y.M. and Saleh, F.A., 2015. Authentication of Carissa macrocarpa cultivated in Saudi Arabia; botanical, phytochemical and genetic study. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, 7(8), pp.497.
  • Council, N.R., 2008. Lost Crops of Africa: Volume III: Fruits. National Academies Press: Washington, DC, USA.
  • Fox, F.W., and Norwood Young, M.E., 1982. Food from the veld. Delta Books, Johannesburg. 
  • Gumede, M.V., 1990. Traditional healers. A medical doctor’s perspective. Skotaville Publishers, Braamfontein, South Africa. 
  • Moodley, R., Chenia, H., Jonnalagadda, S.B. and Koorbanally, N., 2011. Antibacterial and anti-adhesion activity of the pentacyclic triterpenoids isolated from the leaves and edible fruits of Carissa macrocarpa. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 5(19), pp.4851-4858.
  • Moodley, R., Koorbanally, N. and Jonnalagadda, S.B., 2012. Elemental composition and fatty acid profile of the edible fruits of Amatungula (Carissa macrocarpa) and impact of soil quality on chemical characteristics. Analytica chimica acta, 730, pp.33-41.
  • Ramasar, R., Naidoo, Y., Dewir, Y.H. and El-Banna, A.N., 2022. Seasonal Change in Phytochemical Composition and Biological Activities of Carissa macrocarpa (Eckl.) A. DC. Leaf Extract. Horticulturae, 8(9), pp.780.
  • Souilem, F., Dias, M.I., Barros, L., Calhelha, R.C., Alves, M.J., Harzallah-Skhiri, F. and Ferreira, I.C., 2019. Amantagula fruit (Carissa macrocarpa (Eckl.) A. DC.): Nutritional and phytochemical characterization. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 74, pp.76-82.
  • The National Academies (2008) Lost crops of Africa:volume III: fruits. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 7. Moodley R, Chenia H, Jonnalagadda SB (2011) Antibacterial and antiadhesion activity of the pentacyclic triterpenoids isolated from the leaves and edible fruits of Carissa macrocarpa. J Med Plant Res 5:4851–4858 8. Abbas M, Rasool N, Riaz M et al (2014) GC-MS profiling, antioxidant, and antimicrobial studies of various parts of Carissa grandiflora. Bulg Chem Commun 46, pp. 831–839
  • Von Staden, L. 2018. Carissa macrocarpa (Eckl.) A.DC. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2023/04/27.
  • Wehmeyer, A.S., 1976. Food from the veld. Scientiae 17, pp. 2–11.

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