Two people stand on a grassy hillside in the King Range Wilderness, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
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California Poppies Headwaters Forest Reserve Kayaker enjoying the California Coastal National Monument Headwaters Forest Reserve King Range National Conservation Area
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Arcata Field Office

Sea Fig (Carpobrotus chilensis)

Fig-Marigold Family (Aizoaceae)


Photo of sea fig
Photo courtesy of  Charles Webber, California Academy of Sciences

Description: Sea fig (commonly referred to as "iceplant") is an invasive noxious weed, though not as invasive as Hottentot fig. Sea fig is a succulent which stores water in swollen leaves [1.5-2.7 inches (4-7 centimeters) long, widest above middle]or stems enabling it to survive in a drought after being uprooted. Iceplant grows low to the ground and blankets the dunes with its sprawling growth habit. Sea fig has small flowers 1-2.5 centimeters (0.4- 1.0 inches) wide and are rose-magenta in color.

Habitat: Many coastal habitats especially on sand. Sea fig is a native to South Africa. It is believed that the fig was introduced as early as the 1500's in sand used as ship's ballast. About 50 years ago, Caltrans began using iceplant for roadside landscaping and erosion control until discovering that the plant required high maintenance. Iceplant is still used along roadsides, but on a more limited basis.

Distribution: Distributed globally and including the entire California coast. Of particular concern within public lands administered by the Arcata Field Office is the north spit, also known as the Samoa Peninsula, Humboldt Bay where it is displacing native plants along with yellow bush lupine, European beach grass, and Hottentot fig.

Flowering Period: May through July