Carissa bispinosa (L.) Desf. ex Brenan
subsp. bispinosa
var. bispinosa

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Carissa bispinosa subsp. bispinosa var. bispinosa

Photo: Bart Wursten
La Rochelle, kopje behind hotel

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Synonyms: Arduina bispinosa L.
Arduina erythrocarpa Ecklon
Arduina megaphylla Gand.
Arduina acuminata E. Mey. acuminata E. Mey.
Carissa acuminata (E. Mey.) A. DC.
Carissa arduina Lam.
Carissa cordata (Miller) Fourc.
Carissa dinteri Markgraf
Carissa erythrocarpa (Ecklon) A. DC.
Carissa myrtoides Desf.
Jasminonerium bispinosum (L.) Kuntze
Lycium cordatum Miller, nom. illegit.
Common names:
Status: Native
Sprawling shrub up to 3 m tall. Young stems hairless or minutely papillose, stout, bright yellowish or greyish green. Spines numerous and conspicuous, as stout as the subtending stem, usually forked, rarely simple or forked again. Leaves ovate or subcircular, 1·3–5·7 cm long, thickly leathery, hairless, drying greyish or yellowish green, midrib very slightly channelled above, raised beneath, other veins obscure; petiole 2–3 mm long, hairless; margin rolled under. Inflorescence usually many-flowered, condensed, subsessile. Flowers strongly scented, corolla white inside, white or pink to greenish outside. Calyx 2·5–3 mm long, segments lanceolate-subulate. Corolla tube 5–9 mm long, widened slightly in upper half, with a ring of hairs at the mouth. Corolla lobes ovate-acuminate, c. 1/2 as long as tube, hairless or puberulent on lower surface, overlapping to the left. Fruit ovoid, 1–1·3 cm long, red, ripening black, edible.
Notes: See subsp. zambesiensis for comparison. Although the two taxa appear quite distinctly different in morphology as well as ecology in our region, intermediate and very similar forms are known from South Africa and the two are therefore only separated at subspecies level.
Derivation of specific name: bispinosa: with 2 (forked) spines.
Habitat: On termite mounds in Brachystegia woodland or woodland fringes and on coastal dunes.
Altitude range:
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: Kenya, Mozambique, Zimbabwe Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
Mozambique distribution: GI,M
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Bandeira, S., Bolnick, D. & Barbosa, F. (2007). Wild Flowers of Southern Mozambique Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo, Mozambique Page 114. As Carissa bispinosa bispinosa (Includes a picture).

Burrows, J.E., Burrows, S.M., Lötter, M.C. & Schmidt, E. (2018). Trees and Shrubs Mozambique Publishing Print Matters (Pty), Cape Town. Page 793. As Carissa bispinosa subsp. bispinosa (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 7. As Carissa bispinosa bispinosa

Drummond, R.B. (1975). A list of trees, shrubs and woody climbers indigenous or naturalised in Rhodesia. Kirkia 10(1) Page 268. As Carissa bispinosa bispinosa

Leeuwenberg, A.J.M. & Kupicha, F.K. et al. (1985). Apocynaceae Flora Zambesiaca 7(2) Pages 403 - 404. As Carissa bispinosa bispinosa

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 18.

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 25.

Siebert, S. & Mössmer, M. (Editors) (2002). SABONET Southern Mozambique Expedition 2001; Provisional Plant Checklist of the Maputo Elephant Reserve (MER) and Licuati Forest Reserve (LFR) SABONET News 7(1) Page 23.

Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A Checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mount Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34 National Botanic Garden of Belgium Page 43.

Other sources of information about Carissa bispinosa subsp. bispinosa var. bispinosa:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Carissa bispinosa subsp. bispinosa var. bispinosa
Flora of Zimbabwe: Carissa bispinosa subsp. bispinosa var. bispinosa

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Carissa bispinosa
African Plant Database: Carissa bispinosa
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Carissa bispinosa
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Carissa bispinosa
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Carissa bispinosa
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Carissa bispinosa
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Carissa bispinosa
JSTOR Plant Science: Carissa bispinosa
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Carissa bispinosa
Plants of the World Online: Carissa bispinosa
Tropicos: Carissa bispinosa
Wikipedia: Carissa bispinosa

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave 2007-23

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2023). Flora of Mozambique: Species information: Carissa bispinosa subsp. bispinosa var. bispinosa., retrieved 30 November 2023

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