Simple-spined Num-num

Carissa edulis

Carissa edulis in the Rift Valley of Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

Eldoret, Rift Valley, Kenya, Africa. December 2012.

Pallid Emperor

pallid emporer larva © Michael Plagens

These large, vividly marked caterpillars were abundant at Nyeri on this plant.

SHRUB: A medium to very large shrub with numerous, intricate branches. Large specimens can reach 4+ m tall.

FLOWERS: The tubular flowers with five pinwheel-like lobes are dark pink in bud, and white when open. Stamens and pistil are hidden in the tube.

LEAVES: Dark green leaves are smooth, the tip is drawn out into a narrow point, and the margins are smooth.

ARMED: The long sharp thorns are sturdy and red-tipped.

FRUIT: Spherical fruit are tart and edible when ripe.

RANGE: Widespread in upland areas of Kenya.

Strong, sharp thorn of Carissa edulis photo © Michael Plagens

This native shrub is also planted in landscapes and gardens. The stout thorns make it a good barrier hedge and the ripe fruit is edible. White-pink flowers and shiny green foliage make for an attractive plant. It has been used for medicinal purposes as well. Large numbers of emperor moth caterpillars were found on these shrubs near Nyeri.

Apocynaceae -- Dogbane Family

More Information:

Open blooms of Carissa edulis from Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens ripening fruit of Carissa edulis from Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, Created on 26 February 2013,
updated 29 March 2016