COMMON NAMES: Egyptian Carissa, Donkey BerryDESCRIPTION: A spiny, much branched, evergreen, small tree, shrub or scrambler, up to 5 m in height, with a milky sap. Bark grey, smooth, young branchlets with or without hairs, spines simple, straight, 2-5 cm long, usually single.
It attracts many butterflies, birds and pollen gathering insects. These trees or shrubs are often seen in groups along the edges of roads, river banks and dry rivers, growing in large uniform groups.
USE: The fruits are sweet, pleasant to eat and also made into jam. The tree is browsed by goats and camels. Wood is used as fuel. The roots, bark and leaves have medicinal properties. Roots contain an active ingredient, carissin, that may prove useful in the treatment of cancer. The tree is planted as an ornamental and the abundant branching habit and the presence of spines make the plant suitable for planting as a protective hedge.
Human uses - The fruit is edible, the wood used for sticks and knobkieries and young branchlets are used to weave baskets.
GROWING PERIOD: Perennial. In southern Africa flowering occurs from September to December and fruiting from November to January.
FURTHER INF: It is found in Arabia and reaches through Senegal to Cameroon and throughout the drier parts of tropical Africa to the Transvaal, Botswana and north and northeast Namibia. Also found across Asia to Indo-China.It is a tree of deciduous forest, coastal thickets, warm bush-land and scrub. It is often found growing on termite-mounds at elevations from 900 to 1300 m. In Uganda it is usually found in wooded grassland, especially in low-lying areas and also in thickets in woodlands, forest edges and secondary scrub. It prefers dryish conditions.
Identified by Judd Kirkel http://www.ispot.org.za/node/158520