Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Natal Plum (Large Num Num)

Lining the walk ways of UCSD there are spiny bushes dotted with white star shaped flowers, these shrubs are called Carissa macrocarpe or Natal plums. The white flowers are sweet smelling and produce red meaty fruit that has white milky juice. These plants originally come from South Africa where the fruit is highly valued and consumed on a regular basis. The flavor of the fruit is reminiscent of cranberries though some varieties are sweet and taste like raspberries. The Fruit of the Natal plum is prepared in several different ways, it is eaten fresh as a whole fruit or sliced and added to salad for color and taste. Natal Fruit is also placed in water to add flavor or boiled and made into jams and jellies. Though the fruit of this plant is edible the rest of it is poisonous so one should not attempt to consume any other part of the shrub.

Carissa macrocarpe is a popular shrub in California because it is highly drought resistant and can live in poor soil conditions making it easy to care for. Also the shrubs are very handsome with deep green leaves that contrast beautifully with the snowy white flowers and bright red fruit.

So next time you are walking on campus stop and smell the flowers then snag a snack for the road.

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