Natal Plum: The Nutritional And Health Benefits of this Tropical Fruit
The Natal Plum Plant
The Natal Plum
Latin Name : Carissa macrocarpa
The Natal Plum is a shrub native to the Natal area in South Africa, and Mozambique.
In South Africa, it is called Large Num Num, in Zulu, it is called Amatungulu while in Afrikaans, it is called Noem Noem.
The entire plant except for its red colored fruit is poisonous.Only the fruit of this plant is edible and though it is called a plum it hardly tastes like one. The fruit tastes a less sweet version of cranberries with the texture of a strawberry or a somewhat unripe cherry.
No wonder the plant is poisonous, being related to Oleander, which is counted as among the 3 most deadly shrubs. Natal plum belongs to the family Apocynaceae, the family to which Oleander too belongs.
Natal Plum Hedge
The Natal Plum Plant
Natal Plum is a common coastal bush as it can tolerate the salty winds well.Though it requires a warm, moist, tropical to subtropical climate it can grow in a variety of light and temperature conditions, from full sun to a fairly heavy shade. However, it does not like freezing cold.
The shrub is popularly grown as a landscape plant and a security hedge due to its dense foliage and 2 pronged stout spines that makes it impossible for animals and people to get past it. Because of its spines it is not planted close to pedestrian traffic.
The Natal Plum As Part Of The Landscape
Bonsai Natal Plum
The plant can be seen growing on sand dunes or the edges of coastal forests. It is seen growing commonly in Southern Florida and is also cultivated in Southern California.
The Natal Plum grows in mounds form 2 to 7 feet and as much across. It tolerates drought and is a low maintenance shrub, though it grows fast and is evergreen. It is almost pest free.
The plant has shiny, thick and leathery dark green leaves. It bears star shaped flowers the emit a sweet jasmine like scent which deepens at night. The flowers blooms for several months at a stretch though the plant fruits in summer and autumn or in autumn and winter in warmer climates. In coastal areas and moderate climates it can be seen fruiting the year round.
The plant moulds itself very well to bending and for this reason can be grown as a very attractive Bonsai plant.
The Natal Plum Fruit
The fruit is green when unripe and turns a bright red when ripe. It also contains latex though the ripe fruit has a much lower content than the unripe fruit. The whole fruit including the seeds can be eaten safely. When boiled however, the latex leaves the fruit and sticks to the sides of the pot. This can be removed easily by rubbing it with oil. Of course, the fruit should not be boiled or stewed in an aluminium pot.
Apart from eating the fruit as it is, it can be made into jams, jellies, pies and sauces or it can be used in desserts, yogurt, ice cream etc.
Natal Plum - Nutritional And Health Benefits
The Natal plum is a major component of commercial landscaping along sea walls, hotel and restaurant landscapes as also a hedge or barrier plant and as a ground or slope cover. Apart from this, an interesting feature of this plant is its nutritional and health benefits.
This is not evident at all when one looks at the plant from a landscaping point of view or a security point of view. It is however a traditional African food plant with many nutrients.
Especially Vitamin C; in fact it has more Vitamin C than in an orange. 100 grams of the natal Plum provides 63% of the daily requirement of this vitamin.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that boosts the immunity, delays aging, heals wounds, improves teeth and gum health and has a host of other health benefits as well.
Natal Plum also has a good amounts of Iron and copper that not only prevents anemia and builds hemoglobin but also prevents weakness and fatigue, depression and dizziness.
The fruit also contains good amounts of potassium which regulate blood pressure and improves muscle function.
It also contains the heart friendly magnesium and is low in calories.
Thus the Natal Plum is a very useful plant and the fruits can even be pickled. In the video below, pickle is made from the Karonda fruit, the Indian counterpart of the Natal Plum.
To make Natal Plum pickle just substitute Natal Plum for the Karonda fruit and you can make an Indianized version of the Natal Plum pickle.
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
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The Exotic and Edible Natal Plum
Sticky Finger Fruit
Karonda Pickle - Karonda is the Indian equivalent of the Natal Plum (Both belong to the same family), so Natal Plum can be used to replace the Karonda in this p
© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly