Carissa Carandas

Carissa Carandas

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Carissa carandas
is a species of flowering shrub in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae. It produces berry-sized fruits that are commonly used as a condiment or additive to Indian pickles and spices. It is a very hardy, drought-tolerant plant that thrives well in a wide range of soils. Common names include Karonda.

This species is a rank-growing, straggly, woody, climbing shrub, usually growing to 10 or 15 ft. high, sometimes ascending to the tops of tall trees; and rich in white, gummy latex. The branches, numerous and spreading, forming dense masses, are set with sharp thorns, simple or forked, up to 2 in long, in pairs in the axils of the leaves. The leaves are evergreen, opposite, oval or elliptic, 1 to 3 in long; dark-green, leathery, glossy on the upper surface, lighter green and dull on the underside. The fragrant flowers are tubular with 5 hairy lobes which are twisted to the left in the bud instead of to the right as in other species. They are white, often tinged with pink, and borne in terminal clusters of 2 to 12. The fruit, in clusters of 3 to 10, is oblong, broad-ovoid or round, 1/2 to 1 in long; has fairly thin but tough, purplish-red skin turning dark-purple or nearly black when ripe; smooth, glossy; enclosing very acid to fairly sweet, often bitter, juicy, red or pink, juicy pulp, exuding flecks of latex. There may be 2 to 8 small, flat, brown seeds.  Flowering starts in March and the fruit ripens from July to September in North India.