Bwa sandal (Carissa edulis var. sechellensis)

Carissa edulis var. sechellensis branches
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Bwa sandal fact file

Bwa sandal description

GenusCarissa (1)

The bwa sandal is a slender-branched tree that bears smooth, glossy, leaves (2) (3). The leaves, which measure up to seven centimetres in length, are dark green on the upper surface and pale beneath (4). At certain times of the year this tree may also be adorned with clusters of white, fragrant, tubular flowers, measuring up to 1.2 centimetres (4), and deep red berries, as large as cherries (3). The specific name, edulis, means edible (5), while sechellensis refers to the only country in which this botanical variety is found.

Also known as
bois sandal.
Height: up to 12 m (2)

Bwa sandal biology

Very little appears to be recorded about the biology of the bwa sandal, but information can be deduced from other botanical varieties of Carissa edulis inhabiting other parts of the world. In southern Africa, Carissa edulis flowers from September to December. The flowers, which contain both male and female reproductive organs, (the stamens and carpels), are pollinated by insects. The resulting cherry-like fruits appear on the tree from November until January, and are eventually eaten by animals, dispersing the seeds within the fruit to a new site where germination may occur, and a new plant may begin to grow (5).


Bwa sandal range

The bwa sandal occurs on the islands of Silhouette and Aldabra in the Seychelles (4). It used to also occur on Mahé, but became extinct on this island by 1874 (1).


Bwa sandal habitat

The remaining bwa sandal trees favour rocky habitats, often in exposed areas (2).


Bwa sandal status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Bwa sandal threats

The beautiful bwa sandal has been pushed to extreme rarity by felling for the production of aromatic oils, fuelwood (1), and to burn the aromatic wood which has the ability to deter mosquitoes and induce restful sleep (2) (4). In addition, habitat clearance is believed to be the cause of its extinction on Mahé (1). Very few mature bwa sandal trees now remain and this small and restricted population is considered to be in danger of extinction (1).


Bwa sandal conservation

All remaining populations of the bwa sandal occur within protected areas (1), but there is no information to indicate whether the protection is sufficient and well enough enforced to ensure the bwa sandal’s survival.


Find out more

For further information on the bwa sandal see:

  • Wise, R. (1998) A Fragile Eden. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:


  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2007)
  2. Wise, R. (1998) A Fragile Eden. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.
  3. Baker, J.G. (1877) Flora of Mauritius and the Seychelles. L.Reeve and Co, London.
  4. Robertson, S.A. (1989) Flowering Plants of Seychelles. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  5. World Agroforestry Centre: Agroforestree Database (January, 2008)

Image credit

Carissa edulis var. sechellensis branches  
Carissa edulis var. sechellensis branches

© Dr. Justin Gerlach

Dr. Justin Gerlach
Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles


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