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Carpobrotus acinaciformis (Sally-my-handsome)

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Scientific Name

Carpobrotus acinaciformis (L.) L. Bolus

Common Names

Sally-my-handsome, Giant Pigface, Elands Sourfig, Hottentot Fig, Sour Fig, Horse Fig, Creeping Fig, Pigface, Ice Plant, Highway Ice Plant,

Synonyms

Mesembryanthemum acinaciforme

Scientific Classification

Family: Aizoaceae
Subfamily: Ruschioideae
Tribe: Ruschieae
Genus: Carpobrotus

Description

Carpobrotus acinaciformis is a fast-growing, mat-forming, succulent perennial with flat-growing, trailing stems up to 3.2 feet (2 m) long. The leaves are in opposite pairs, yellowish to grass-green, often red tinged at the edges, triangular in cross-section, up to 5.2 inches (13 cm) long and up to 0.7 inch (1.8 cm) thick. The flowers are solitary, brilliant pink-violet to dark magenta, daisy-like with many stamens surrounding a starfish-like stigma, up to 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter and appear at the end of a short stalk. The edible fruits are fragrant when ripe, yellow and up to 1.4 inches (3.5 cm) in diameter.

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 7a to 9b: from 0 °F (−17.8 °C) to 30 °F (−1.1 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Carpobrotus plants are notoriously unfussy. As long as their soil drains well, the soil is allowed to dry out between watering and the plant receives pinching or pruning to keep it in shape, there is little more to be done.

The only serious threats to the plant's health are spittle bugs and some root rots and stem rots. You can avoid the rot by minimizing overhead watering during periods in which the plant will not dry off before nightfall. The bugs will remove themselves if you spray with a horticultural soap.

Growing Carpobrotus in containers is ideal, and you can overwinter them in temperate regions. Just bring the pot in and water it deeply. Cut back the plant and let it dry out and languish for the winter in a warm location. In spring, resume regular watering and move the plant to a full light situation where it has some protection from burning rays. Gradually reintroduce the plant to temperatures outdoors until it can tolerate a full day outside.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Carpobrotus.

Origin

Carpobrotus acinaciformis is native to the coastal dunes of the Western Cape, South Africa.

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