Family • Apocynaceae - Carissa carandas Linn. - CHRIST'S THORN - Cu huang guo

Scientific names

Carissa carandas Linn.
Carissa congesta (Wt.) Bedd.
Echites spinosa Burm. f.
Carissa spinarum

Common names

Caramba (Engl.)
Caranda (Span.)
Carandas plum (Engl.)
Christ’s thorn (Engl.)
Cu huang guo (Chin.)

Caranda is a shrub growing 2 to 3 meters high. Branches are numerous, rigid and spreading, with 2 straight, simple or forked thorns, up to 5 centimeters in length on the axils and nodes. Leaves are smooth, ovate, or oblong-ovate, 4 to 7.5 centimeters in length, 2.5 to 4 centimeters in width, rounded or notched at the base, and blunt tipped. Flowers are fragrant, white or pale rose-colored, clustered in twos or threes. Calyx-segments are very slender, pointed and hairy. Corolla tube is about 2 centimeters long, smooth, with a swollen throat and hairy lobes, the lobes being lanceolate, pointed, spreading and about half as long as the tube. Fruit is a drupe, broadly ovoid, 1.5 to 2.5 centimeters long, bluntly pointed, and blackish or reddish-purple, containing 2 to 4 small, flat seeds. Pulp is reddish-purple and sour.


– Recently introduced into the Philippines- In limited cultivation. especially in the College of Agriculture at Los Banos, Laguna.
– Recently introduced into the Philippines.
– Native of India.
– Common in the Indian subcontinent, including Bangladesh.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Carissa carandas / Wikipedia

(2) Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary / C. P. Khare

(3) Anticonvulsant Activity of Carissa carandas Linn. Root Extract in Experimental Mice / Karunakar Hegde, Shalin Thakker et al / Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, April 2009; 8 (2): 117-125

(4) Hepatoprotective effect of Carissa carandas root extract against CCl4 and paracetamol-induced hepatic oxidative stress / Karunakar Hegde and Arun Joshi / Indian Journ of Experimental Biology, Vol 47, Aug 2009, pp 660-667

(5) Anticancer study of Carissa carandas extracts / Shaida Fariza Sulaiman, Wong Soo Teng et al

(6) Lignans and a Sesquiterpene Glucoside from Carissa carandas Stem / Ruchira Wangteeraprasert, Kittisak Likhitwitayawuld / Helvetica Chimica Acta, Volume 92, Issue 6, pages 1217-1223, June 2009 / DOI: 10.1002/hlca.200800443

(7) Karaunda (Carissa Carandas Linn.) – As a Phytomedicine: A Review / N Balakrishnan, VH Bhaskar / THE PHARMA REVIEW (SEPTEMBER 2009)

(8) What Herbs Decrease the Female Libido? / Jennifer Byrne

(9) The antioxidant effect of C carandas unripe fruit extracts and fractions / Shaida Fariza Sulainman, Khoo Hsweow Shuang and Siti Rafiday Yusof /

(10) Volatile Flavor Constituents of Karanda (Carissa carandas L.) Fruit / Pino, Jorge A, Marbot, Rolando, Vazquez, Carlos / Journal of Essential Oil Research / JEOR / Sep/Oct 2004

(11) Triterpenoidal constituents of the leaves of Carissa carandas / Siddiqui BS, Ghani U, Ali ST, Usmani SB, Begum S./ Nat Prod Res. 2003 Jun;17(3):153-8.

(12) Antidiabetic potential of unripe Carissa carandas Linn. fruit extract / Prakash R. Itankar, , Sarika J. Lokhande et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 135, Issue 2, 17 May 2011, Pages 430-433

– Root contains a trace amount of volatile oil with an odor similar to that of Piper betle leaf, salicylic acid, and an alkaloid.
– Study has reported carisone, carindone, carinol, lignin, oderoside and 2-acetylphenol from root materials.
– Leaves have yielded triterpenes, tannins and carissic acid.
– Fruits yield a mixture of volatile principles – 2-phenyl ethanol, linalool, ß-caryophyllene, isoamyl alcohol and benzyl acetate, and a novel triterpenic alcohol (carissol).
– Study of fresh leaves isolated four pentacyclic triterpenoids including a new constituent, carissin (3beta-hydroxy-27-E-feruloyloxyurs-12-en-28-oic acid), and two previously unreported compounds.

– Root considered a bitter stomachic.
– Unripe fruit considered astringent; the ripe fruit, cooling, acid, and antiscorbutic.
– Considered aphrodisiac,

Parts used
Roots, fruits and leaves.

Culinary / Nutrition
– Green fruit makes a good pickle; the ripe fruit may be eaten raw.
– Fruit is a rich source of iron, with a fair amount of vitamin C.
– Mature fruit, high in pectin, is useful for making jellies, jams, squash, syrup and chutney.
-The fruit makes an excellent acid jelly for serving with fish and meats.
– In India, the green fruits are pickled.

– Root used as plaster in the Konkan to keep off flies.
– A concoction pounded with horse wine, lime juice and camphor, used as a remedy for itches.
– In Cuttack, decoction of leaves used at the commencement of remittent fevers.
– In Punjab and Cashmere, leaves used in diarrhea, earache, soreness of the mouth and throat, and syphilitic pains.
– In India, root paste used for diabetic ulcers. Used for acidity, flatulence, poor digestion. Juice of fresh plant used for wounds that refuse to heal. Used for scabies, intestinal worms, pruritus, biliousness.
– In Ayurveda, stem bark used for obstinate skin diseases; the root for urinary disorders.
– In Bangladesh, plant parts used for treatment of epilepsy, malaria, fever, dysentery, and diabetes.
– Unripe fruit used as astringent; ripe fruit useful for bilious complaints.
– Ripe fruit also used as antiscorbutic.
– Reported to be an anaphrodisiac, reducing women’s libido.

Study Findings
• Anticonvulsant: Study in mice showed the ethanol extract of roots of Carissa carandas exhibited anticonvulsant effects. The data suggest the anticonvulsant effect may be due to non-specific mechanisms since there was reduction of duration of seizures produced by maximal electroshock as well as delayed the latency of seizures produced by pentylenetetrazole and picrotoxin.
• Hepatoprotective / Antioxidant: Study on the ethanol extract of roots of C carandas showed significant dose-dependent hepatoprotective activity against CCl4 and paracetamol induced hepatotoxicity. Data also showed strong antioxidant activity.
• Antioxidant: Eight fractions from methanolic and chloroform extracts all showed very strong antioxidant activity. Mixture of compounds in the chloroform and methanolic extracts showed better antioxidant activity than the isolated fractions. Results suggest that the synergistic effects of the constituents in the choloroform extracts of the unripe fruits showed the best antioxidant activity.
• Anticancer: Study of plant extracts was done on human ovarian carcinoma, Caov-3 and lung cancer cells, NCI. Chloroform extract from leaves showed good anticancer activity against Caov-3 while the n-hexane extract of the unripe fruit showed remarkable activity against the lung cancer cell line.
• Lignans / Carandoside : Study of the stems of C carandas yielded two new compounds, carandoside and a glucopyranosylr-resinol, together with three known lignans. Study also evaluated their DPPH radical scavenging activities.
• Analgesic / Anti-Inflammatory / Antipyretic: Study of the ethanol and aqueous extracts from roots of P daemia and C carandas showed significant analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic activities in rodent models.
• Fruit Constituents: Study of volatile flavor constituents of karanda fruits growing in Cuba yielded 150 compounds in the aroma concentrate, the major constituents were isoamyl alcohol, isobutanol and beta-caryophyllene.
• Antidiabetic: Study showed a methanol extract and its ethyl acetate soluble fraction significantly lowered the elevated blood glucose levels by 48% and 64.5% respectively, at dose levels of 400 mg/kg. The increased antidiabetic potential of the EAF over the ME was attributed to its partial purification with increase degree of polymerization and segregation of secondary metabolites.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Analgesic: Study of ethanolic extract of Cc fruits resulted in inhibition of stretching episodes and 16.05% inhibition in acetic acid induced writhing.
• Anti-Hyperlipidemic: Study of aqueous extract of Cc in egg yolk-induced hyperlipidemic rats showed a significant reduction in body weight, cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, and LDL , with reduction in histopathologic changes in hyperlipidemic rats.