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Iceplant; Hottentot Fig (Carpobrotus edulis)

Iceplant Family (Aizoaceae)

Carpobrotus edulis (Iiceplant; hottentot fig). Copyright 2009 Neal Kramer
Copyright 2009 Neal Kramer
            Carpobrotus edulis (iceplant; hottentot fig).  Copyright 2011 Marco Zecchin
Copyright 2011 Marco Zecchin


Description/Habitat:  Iceplant (Carpobrotus edulis) is a mat-forming or trailing perennial shrub that is native to South Africa. It was extensively planted along highways to provide erosion control and beach stabilization. The favored habitat of iceplant is coastal scrub, grassland, chaparral, bluffs, and dunes. It has become naturalized throughout coastal California and the Channel Islands, and does not favor a cold winter climate.
Leaves:  Leaves are sessile, opposite, elongate, succulent, 6-10 cm long, 1-1.5 cm wide, sharply triangular in cross-section, widest below middle, slight curved, outer angle of tip often serrate, and glabrous but not covered with whitish bloom (glaucous). Leaf pairs fused at the base. Stems develop adventitious roots and nodes.
Flowers:  Flowers are terminal, solitary, and stalked at the stem tip with numerous pink, white, or yellow linear petals. Flowers have dozens of petals and stamens. The flowers range in diameter from 8-10 cm.
Seeds:  Capsules are berrylike, with large, fleshy, and edible fruits, which persist on plants for months, and turn yellow and dry out with age. Seeds are numerous per fruit, and remain in the fruit until they are consumed by animals, such as deer, rabbits, and rodents, or decompose. Seeds mostly germinate in fall after first significant rain.
Flowering Period:  Primarily April through October, sometimes nearly year-round, but peaks in spring.
Management:  On Fort Ord National Monument, iceplant is particularly abundant in areas where disturbance has occurred. This includes areas where the Army is cutting vegetation or conducting prescribed burns in order to locate and remove unexploded ordnance. (Note: Prescribed burning is the preferred method of vegetation clearance because it allows for several species of rare annual plants to grow and set seeds. In addition, the native chaparral shrub species are adapted to recover post-burns).
Manual removal can be effective in controlling iceplant. However, plants and stem fragments left on the ground after being pulled out can survive and re-root. It is recommended that plants and stem fragments be piled upside down or atop surrounding vegetation to limit contact of plant parts to the ground, in order to prevent resprouting. Herbicide treatments, such as foliar applications of glyphosate, can be used to control iceplant. Iceplant has been successfully controlled in many areas of Fort Ord. However, because of the ongoing cleanup and work to remove ordinance, the Fort Ord Weed Crew spends a significant portion of their time ensuring that native plants, and not iceplant, dominate in areas where ordinance clean-up has occurred.
DiTomaso, J. M. and E. A. Healy. 2007. Weeds of California and Other Western States. Volume 1: Aizoaceae to Fabaceae. University of California Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources: 58-70

Albert, Marc. 2000. Carpobrotus edulis. Pp. 90-94 in Bossard, C. C., J.M. Randall, and M. C. Hoshovsky. Invasive Plants of California's Wildlands. University of California Press. Berkeley, CA.

Last updated: 08-20-2012