Carissa L.

Syst.Nat. 2:189 (1767)
Name Status

Scientific Description

Family Apocynaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Shrubs, or lianas, or trees (not in Australia); evergreen; laticiferous (white). Plants spiny (stems). The spines axial (simple or forked). Leaves cauline. To 1–4 m high (shrubs and lianas). Self supporting, or climbing; scrambling. Mesophytic. Not heterophyllous. Leaves small; opposite; leathery; simple. Leaf blades dorsiventral; entire; ovate, or elliptic; cuneate at the base, or rounded at the base. Mature leaf blades adaxially glabrous, or pubescent (with basifixed indumentum); abaxially glabrous, or pubescent (with basifixed indumentum). Leaves without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire. Leaf anatomy. Hairs present; glandular hairs absent. Unicellular hairs absent. Complex hairs present. Branched hairs absent. Complex hairs peltate.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite.

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in cymes. Inflorescences extra- axillary, or terminal; a umbelliform condensed cyme. Flowers pedicellate; bracteate; small; fragrant. Hypogynous disk absent. Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 10; 2 -whorled; isomerous. Calyx present; 5; 1 -whorled; gamosepalous; lobed (lobes are deeply divided); lobulate. Calyx lobes markedly longer than the tube. Calyx erect; hairy; exceeded by the corolla; regular. Calyx lobes ovate. Corolla present; 5; 1 -whorled; gamopetalous; lobed; lobulate. Corolla lobes markedly shorter than the tube. Corolla contorted (dextrorse in bud); hypocrateriform (tube somewhat swollen around the anthers); regular; hairy abaxially (on upper half), or glabrous abaxially; hairy adaxially (on upper half), or glabrous adaxially; plain; white, or cream. Corolla lobes ovate. Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 5. Androecial members adnate (epipetalous); all equal; free of one another; 1 -whorled. Stamens 5. Staminal insertion in the throat of the corolla tube. Stamens all inserted at the same level; remaining included; all more or less similar in shape; isomerous with the perianth; oppositisepalous; all alternating with the corolla members. Anthers all alike; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; appendaged; apiculate. Gynoecium 2 carpelled. The pistil 2 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary plurilocular; 2 locular. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1. Stigmas 1. Ovules 5–10 per locule (i.e. ‘several’ in 2 rows).

Fruit and seed features. Fruit 6–15 mm long; fleshy; purple, or black (i.e. black-purple); indehiscent; a berry. Dispersal unit the seed. Fruit 1 seeded, or 4 seeded. Seeds compressed (globose); not conspicuously hairy; wingless.

Geography, cytology, number of species. World distribution: Africa, Madagasar, Arabian peninsula, Indian subcontinent, New Guinea, New Caledonia and Australia. Native of Australia. Not endemic to Australia. Australian states and territories: Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, and New South Wales. Northern Botanical Province and Eremaean Botanical Province. A genus of c. 30–35 species; 2 species in Western Australia; 0 endemic to Western Australia.

Additional comments. Etymology: latinised version of a Sanskrit vernacular name (Krishna) for C. carandas.

Etymology. Derivation is not known, probably based on a vernacular name in India or the East Indies.

S. Hamilton-Brown, 8 September 2016

Taxonomic Literature

  • Australian Biological Resources Study (1996). Flora of Australia. Volume 28, Gentianales. CSIRO. Melbourne.