Carissa carandas - carandas plum trees

Carissa carandas – nicknamed the syrup plant in Vietnam

Carissa carandas, aka Bengal currant, Christ’s thorn, carandas plum and karanda, is a species of flowering shrub in the family Apocynaceae. Carissa carandas grows in subtropical and tropical countries in South Asia such as Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka… The plant is also found in southern Vietnam. In Vietnam, the plant is known as cây si rô (or xi rô), literally means the syrup plant, due to the fact its berries are used to make syrups.

carandas plum trees
Carandas plum trees are widely cultivated in Go Cong (Tien Giang province)

C. carandas plant blooms and bears fruit all year round, but blooms most in spring, bears fruit and then ripens in summer. Its fruits grows in clusters, have a round or ovoid shape, about 1-2 cm in diameter, about 1.5-2 cm long. The fruits have very beautiful colors: they are green when unripe, white when semi-ripe, and red then dark purple when ripe with a light aroma. The shelf life of picked fruits are about 3-4 days.

harvested carandas plums
Harvested carandas plums

As an ornamental plant

Since the fruits have many colors, and the C. carandas shrub can easily be bent or shaped, the plant is cultivated in Vietnam as an ornamental plant or bonsai.

Carissa carandas - ornamental plant - bonsai
Carissa carandas – ornamental plant – bonsai

As Food

The green fruits of C. carandas are sour, so they can be a source of acidity. Green carandas plums are actually used in cooking Vietnamese sour soup.

Ripe carandas plums can be used as jam. However jam is not so popular in Vietnam, and ripe carandas plums are mainly used to cook syrups. Syrups are easy to make quick drinks to quench thirsts because Vietnam is a tropical country.

Carissa carandas syrup
Carissa carandas syrup served as a drink

Another use of carandas plums are to make wine.

 

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