Sea Fig (Carpobrotus chilensis)
Fig-Marigold Family (Aizoaceae)
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