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CARPOBROTUS edulis

Image of Carpobrotus edulis

Sarracenia.com

Family

Aizoaceae

Botanical Name

CARPOBROTUS edulis

Plant Common Name

Highway Iceplant, Hottentot Fig

General Description

In addition to its light yellow and pale pink flowers, the highway iceplant also yields edible, fig-like fruits late in the season. This summer blooming perennial groundcover is native to the slopes of coastal and inland South Africa. It develops a relatively shallow root system and spreads via fleshy stems across the soil to create dense mats of foliage.

The short, succulent leaves are stiff, narrow and held upright. In cross section they have a distinctly triangular shape. Younger leaves are slightly yellowish green but mature foliage is gray-green blushed with red. From spring to fall, many blossoms are produced across the mats, which open in the morning and close at dusk. In the center of each pale yellow, dandelion-like flower is a starfish-shaped stigma. As flowers age, they turn shades of light pink. Bees and butterflies pollinate the blossoms, and small, golden-brown, fragrant fruits that resemble tiny figs are produced from late summer into fall. These edible fruits have an astringent, sour and salty taste.

Plant highway iceplant in sunshine and somewhat dry, sandy soil with some organic matter. This succulent is highly drought tolerant, but bone-dry, hot soil will diminish overall vigor and flowering during the growing season. Irrigate lightly in the heat of the growing season, but keep the soil dry in winter. Too much water or fertilizer will kill this iceplant. High humidity and shade are also problematic as they lead to fungal rot and encourage snail habitation. This iceplant is an exceptional groundcover for rock gardens, on coastal sandy berms, in containers or as for rooftop gardens in frost-free regions. Do not plant this shallow-rooted plant along roadsides where erosion is a problem.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 5

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    7 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    4"-6" / 10.2cm - 15.2cm

  • Width

    5'-20' / 1.5m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall

  • Native To

    South Africa

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Mat-forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Light Yellow, Light Pink

  • Fruit Color

    Gold, Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edging, Edible, Groundcover, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes