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Carissa Bonsai

Carissa bonsai trees are created from Carissa macrocarpa grandiflora and its many variations.  They are all suitable for bonsai.

The plant itself is easy to grow and the fruit, fragrant flowers and small leaves are definitely a plus.

Carissa macrocarpa grandiflora has very large thorns.

The fruit is commonly used in jams and jellies. 

Birds are also fond of it, and will steal it whenever possible.

When it became a popular garden plant in California and Florida, many dwarf cultivars were soon introduced.  (Not all cultivars produce fruit.)

Carissa - fruit, flower, thorns

About Carissa Bonsai
Common Names

This bonsai is often referred to by the common name Natal plum. So named because the plant is native to a province in Africa called KwaZulu-Natal.  (This common name is often mispronounced  'natal,' as in birth.)

Carissa boxwood is also a common name, although the plant is not in the Buxus genus.

Carissa as Bonsai

Carissa bonsaiCreated by Frank Okamura

This bonsai is in Brooklyn Botanical Garden collection.


The Carissa to the left - grown by Johnson Teh in Miami - is only 8 inches tall and has very small leaves. When it blooms the flower, albeit small, actually seem out of scale.

Not officially identified, it is likely a Carissa 'Dainty Princess."






The depth of its first container was used to help re-establish some weak roots.

A more recent photo of the same 8 inch (20.32 cm) bonsai shows how much difference a new bonsai pot can make.


Carissa Care


Natal plum is a tropical plant and in its natural environment likes full sun. 

If given enough light, it will do well indoors.

They prefer to dry out a little between waterings, so fast draining soil is a must.

The bonsai cascade shown here to the left, appears to be a Carissa microcarpa grandiflora.

It is now exhibited in the permanent University of Michigan Bonsai and Penjing collection.




You can see from the pictures on this page Natal plum bonsai are suited to many different styles.

The lovely bonsai photo to the right,  was sent to me from Florida resident Richard Jefferey. 

It is an urban yamadori

Rick told me:

"I thought I'd share a Carissa from a hedge that survived Hurricane Andrew   . . . the house it bordered did not."


Where to Go From Here

The true Boxwood Bonsai

Carissa bonsai is just one of many types of bonsai trees.

Growing Bonsai Indoors





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