Family: Apocynaceae (Oleander family)
Genus: Carissa
Botanical name: Carissa carandas
Sanskrit: Karamarda, Dimdima, Avighna, Kshiraphala, Karamardaka
Hindi: Karonda
English: Bengal Currant, Black Cherry
Malayalam: Cherry, Karutta cheri, Karakka, Kara, Kandaki
Karutta cheri grows naturally in the Himalayas at elevations of 300 to 1800 meters, in the Siwalik Hills, the Western Ghats and in Nepal and Afghanistan Leaves are from one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half inches long, very dark green, shiny and opposite and they have large spines like many other Carissas. If the leaves or stems are injured, the white milky sap is seen, which is characteristic of this group of plants. Although carissa karanda can be kept clipped into a shrub, it really prefers to act much like a vine similar to bougainvillea and will climb to the tops of rather tall trees. Small fragrant three-quarter-inch white flowers, with rose stalk, are produced from early spring through late fall and the clusters of small purplish to black fruit ripen from May through October. Fruit size is variable, but most fruits are about three-quarters of an inch in diameter with a few seeds.
The fruit is a rich source of iron, so it sometimes used in treatment of anaemia. It contains a fair amount of Vitamin C and therefore is anantiscorbutic.
Mature fruit is harvested for pickles. It contains pectin and accordingly is a useful ingredient in jelly, jam, syrup and chutney. Ripe fruits exude white latex when severed from the branch.
The roots of the plant are heavily branched, making it valuable for stabilizing eroding slopes.
Karutta Cheri
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