Scientific name
Carissa edulis1(Forssk.) Vahl 

Family name

Local name(s)
Akamba (Bena), Agamita (Konsogna), Agam (Amargna), Agamssa (Oromiffa), Adishawel (Somali)

General description
The plant is spiny evergreen shrub or small tree to 5 m. The bark is gray, smooth with straight woody spines to 5cm, often in pairs, rarely branching. Milky latex. Leaves are opposite, leathery, shiny dark green to 5cm, tip pointed, base rounded, stalk very short. The flowers are fragrant in pink-white terminal clusters. Each flower is to 2cm and the lobes overlap to the right. The berries are round approx. 1cm and purple-black when ripe.

Edible part(s), preparation methods and palatability
Fruits are edible. The rounded berries, about 1 cm and purple-black when ripe, are consumed raw both unripe and ripe (the fleshy part) by children in normal times and by every hungry people in food shortage periods. The ripe fruits are sweet, although a little bit sour and taste like unripe cherries. The unripe fruits taste tart. They contain 2-4 seeds. Another consumption pattern explained by Bena people is to collect the unripe berries and boil them in hot water and make porridge. The fruits have small seeds inside. Ripe fruits when consumed leave the consumers’ teeth dark red.

C. edulis is widespread in many parts of Africa. It grows at forest edges, in forests and woodlands where Euphorbia, Acacia, and Croton commonly occur, especially on rocky hillsides, on clay soils, especially black cotton soils, in dry and moist low- and midlands (1500-2500 m).

Propagation method(s)
Propagates by seeds; seedlings, wildlings

Sample location(s)
(1) Alduba, Hamer-Bena Woreda (South Omo); (2) Jana Mora Woreda (North Gonder); (3) Dible Seat, Ganta Afesum (Eastern Tigray)

The plant is said to be an important food and medical species in Ethiopia and also outside in other parts of Africa. Sheep and goats also eat the leaves. Also used for hedges.

1 Parts of the following description have been taken from Bekele-Tesemma et al., 1993: p. 130/131and Maundu et al., 1999: p. 85/86

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C. edulis tree near Alduba, Hamer-Bena, South Omo

C. edulis ripe edible fruits, Alduba