Carissa bispinosa (L.) Desf. ex Brenan
subsp. zambesiensis Kupicha

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Carissa bispinosa subsp. zambesiensis

Photo: Bart Wursten
On ridge above Cavalo, Sanjunjira, Mt Gorongosa, Mozambique.

Carissa bispinosa subsp. zambesiensis

Photo: Bart Wursten
Forested slopes below Nhandore peak, Mt Gorongosa

Carissa bispinosa subsp. zambesiensis

Photo: Stefaan Dondeyne
Along trail going down in western part of southern forest, Mt Tsetsera

Carissa bispinosa subsp. zambesiensis

Photo: Stefaan Dondeyne
Along trail going down in western part of southern forest, Mt Tsetsera

Carissa bispinosa subsp. zambesiensis

Photo: Bart Wursten
Magorogodo hills, Zomba Community

Carissa bispinosa subsp. zambesiensis

Photo: Bart Wursten
Along path to Mt Binga above Nhamadzi River crossing, Chimanimani National Reserve

Carissa bispinosa subsp. zambesiensis

Photo: Bart Wursten
Mt Gorongosa

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Synonyms: Carissa bispinosa (L.) Desf. ex Brenan var. acuminata sensu R.B. Drumm.
Common names: Forest num-num (English) Y-thorned carissa (English)
Frequency: Locally common in forest understorey
Status: Native
Shrub or small tree, up to 5 m tall, usually smaller, with opposite, slender, often forked spines up to 3 cm long (in this subspecies). Young stems and branches distinctly green; milky latex present. Leaves opposite, more or less broadly ovate, thinly to thickly leathery, hairless, dark glossy green above, paler below; veining indistinct; margin entire. Flowers in terminal clusters, c. 1.3 cm in diameter white, often reddish-pink on the corolla tube, sweetly scented. Fruit ovoid up to 1.6 cm long, fleshy, red when ripe.
Notes: The fruits are edible. See subsp. spinosa for comparison.
Derivation of specific name: bispinosa: with 2 (forked) spines;
zambeziensis: of the Zambezi, a vague reference as the species is not at all closely restricted to the Zambezi River.
Habitat: In woodland, forest margins and in the understorey of evergreen forest.
Altitude range: 300 - 1630 m
Flowering time:Oct - Mar
Worldwide distribution: Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and South Africa
Mozambique distribution: N,Z,MS
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species: Cirina forda (Food plant)
Nephele comma (Food plant)
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Content last updated: Friday 27 May 2022

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

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 12.

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 acuminata

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

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.

Steedman, E.C. (1933). Some Trees, Shrubs and Lianes of Southern Rhodesia. Page 69. as Carissa arduina

Other sources of information about Carissa bispinosa subsp. zambesiensis:

Our websites:

Flora of Malawi: Carissa bispinosa subsp. zambesiensis
Flora of Zimbabwe: Carissa bispinosa subsp. zambesiensis

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. zambesiensis., retrieved 29 September 2023

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