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Carpobrotus edulis (Highway Ice Plant)

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Scientific Name

Carpobrotus edulis (L.) N. E. Br.

Common Names

Ice Plant, Highway Ice Plant, Freeway Ice Plant, Pigface, Hottentot Fig, Sour Fig, Sea Fig, Cape Fig

Synonyms

Mesembryanthemum edule (basionym)

Scientific Classification

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

Description

Carpobrotus edulis is a creeping, mat-forming perennial succulent with leaves crowded along the stem, up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) long and up to 0.5 inch (1.2 cm) thick, sharply 3-angled and triangular in cross-section, yellowish to grass-green and reddish when older. The flowers are yellow or light pink, up to 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter. The fruit is up to 1.4 inches (3.5 cm) in diameter, fleshy, shaped like spinning top, on a winged stalk, becoming yellow when ripe.

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zone 8b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

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 March, 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.

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.

Stem cutting is the fastest way to propagate this fast growing plants. Seeds are also available and you may start them indoors at least six weeks before the date of the last frost… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Carpobrotus

Origin

Native to South Africa (Coastal and inland slopes from Namaqualand in the Northern Cape through the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape).

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