Common name: Forest num-num, Zulu name: umVusankunzi
On a recent walk in the Dargle mistbelt forest, visitors saw many of these lovely understorey shrubs in flower. The glossy foliage and fragrant, starry-white, jasmine-like flowers make quite a show and often, the red berries are found on the plant at the same time. The small, ovoid, fruits are edible and delicious and make good jams and jellies (if you can collect enough!).
Visitors to the KZN coast will be familiar with the scarlet fruits of Carissa macroparpa or Amathungulu.
Carissa bispinosa is a scrambling shrub (1-4m) – evergreen, dense and twiggy, with forked spines on the branches that make Carissa an excellent choice for hedges. The sweetly scented flowers and fruit attract butterflies, insects and birds, while game browse the leaves. The roots are used medicinally to treat toothache.
On the first Thursday of every month, The Dargle Conservancy, in conjunction with Barend Booysen, hosts a forest walk at Kilgobbin Cottage. Phone Barend for further details 082-787 0797. On the third Sunday of each month, Katie Robinson hosts a forest walk at Lemonwood – Phone 082 052 6072. Balgowan Conservancy forest walks are at Midlands Forest Lodge on the second Thursday – Phone Di Acres 082 904 6559 , and at Milestone on the first Friday – Phone Marily Reverz 082 427 3365. Karkloof Conservancy hosts a walk at Mbona on the third Friday – Phone Keith Cooper 082 574 1958. These are wonderful opportunities to see Carissa bispinosa and other forest species up close. Cost R20.00 per person.