NATAL PLUM

NZ Gardener - Garden Diary 2018 - - Sow & Grow -

The Natal plum ( Carissa macro­carpa or Carissa gran­di­flora) is a spiky South African shrub with the amus­ing com­mon name of “large num-num”. North­land nurs­ery­man and sub­trop­i­cal spe­cial­ist Rus­sell Fran­sham first saw Natal plums grown in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia when he lived there for a year as a young man. His surf­ing com­pan­ions re­ferred to them as bur­glar bushes be­cause they were widely used as low hedges be­neath win­dows, the thorny stems de­ter­ring prowlers. “This small shrub is ter­rific in beach gar­dens as it loves hot, dry con­di­tions. The flow­ers are per­fumed, white and star-shaped, and the fruits re­ally are like plums, but without the stones. But they must be truly ripe be­fore eat­ing is at­tempted. You have to wait un­til they have turned a rich, dark, bur­gundy colour, then they have the flavour of a re­ally good plum. When the fruits are bright red they’re not yet ripe and are as­trin­gent and hor­ri­ble.”

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