The big num-num or Natal plum as Carissa macrocarpa is commonly known, has many features that contribute to its status as a favourite garden subject: Pretty flowers, edible fruit, strong growing in most gardening conditions or soil types, low water requirements and generally low maintenance. The much-branched shrub or small tree grows to 4 m in height (SA Tree List No. 640.3).
Rigid spines, forked once or twice become up to 5 cm long. Part of the Apocynaceae family, all parts of the plant contain a non-toxic milky latex, emerging when the plant is bruised.
The species occurs naturally on the South African coast from the southern Cape northwards to Mozambique. It grows in coastal forest and scrub or on sand dunes. It is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century (Coates Palgrave, 2002; www.plantzafrica.com).