Carpobrotus edulis is also commonly known as Ice Plant, Hottentot-fig, Highway Ice Plant for Pigface. It is native to South Africa where it is called the Suurvy or Sour Fig. It is a succulent ground cover. It was previously classified as Mesembryanthemum and called Mesembryanthemum edule. It is part of the Aizoaceae family of plants. There are similar plants in this genus making it easy to confuse them but Carpobrotus edulis is rather large in size comparatively. Carpobrotus edulis flowers are from 2.5 to 6in or 6.5cm to 15cm in diameter. Flowers usually magenta or creams yellow. The succulent leaves are slightly curved.
In its natural environment, Carpobrotus edulis is pollinated by bees, leaves are eaten by tortoises and flowers by antelopes and baboons. It provides shelter for snails and lizards and snakes. Carpobrotus edulis can grow-ups to 90cm or 3ft per year. It flowers mostly from August to October, they open with light and close at night.
Carpobrotus edulis has spread throughout many regions especially coastal regions in California, Australia, and the Mediterranean. Black rats have increased its spread as they eat the fruit and spread the seed. It is easily propagated by seed. In California, it is widely seen by the coast as well on the banks of freeways. In California and similar climates Ice Plants flower all year round.
Plant Carpobrotus edulis in the sun in well-drained soil. It is an evergreen and drought-tolerant and fire-resistant as the leaves store water. It is therefore one of the plants recommended to be used in areas prone to fires. Interestingly Lavender, Sage, Agave, Yucca, Aeonium, and Lamb’s Ear are other plants that are slow to ignite.