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Carpobrotus edulis - (L.)L.Bolus.

Common Name Hottentot Fig,
Family Aizoaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Sandy and rocky places by the sea[260]. Naturalized on cliffs and banks by the sea in Cornwall and S. Devon[17].
Range S. Africa - Cape Province. Naturalized in Britain[17].
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Carpobrotus edulis Hottentot Fig,

Carpobrotus edulis Hottentot Fig,


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Carpobrotus edulis is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8 and is frost tender. It is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Mesembryanthemum edulis.

Plant Habitats

 Ground Cover; Cultivated Beds; South Wall. By. West Wall. By.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw, cooked, dried for later use or made into pickles, chutney etc[1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 183]. There is very little flesh in the fruit and it must be fully ripe otherwise it is very astringent[K]. Mucilaginous and sweetly acid[183]. Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 173]. Succulent, they are eaten in salads and can also be used as a substitute for pickled cucumber[183]. We find them too mucilaginous to be enjoyable[K].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Used as a traditional medicinal plant (GRIN, 2008), some anti-cancer properties have been shown by methanolic extracts of C. edulis (Ordway et al., 2003); and also anti-bacterial properties (van de Watt and Pretorius, 2001)[1d].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fire retardant  Soil stabilization  Tannin

Used in maritime areas to prevent soil erosion in sandy soils[188, 200]. Plants form a dense carpet and make an effective ground cover[208]. Can be grown as a fire barrier in areas subject to forest fires, it is moderately fire retardant[200]. The dried leaves contain about 19.4% tannin and the dry stems 14.2%[223]. Yields of 1700 kilos per hectare of cultivated plants have been achieved[223]. A popular plant for growth as an ornamental or for ground cover [1d].

Special Uses

Ground cover

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Requires a well-drained sandy soil in a sunny position[1, 200]. Plants can be grown on dry walls or in the flower border[166]. Established plants are very drought resistant[200]. Very resistant to wind and salt spray[166]. Moderately fire-retardant[200]. Plants are not very frost resistant and can be killed by temperatures below about -2°c. They have naturalized themselves on cliffs along the coast of S. Britain but do not succeed inland unless grown in a sunny sheltered position[200]. A vigorous prostrate plant, rooting as it spreads. The flowers only open in the afternoon[200]. Grows on shallow soil [1d].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - surface sow March to June in a greenhouse. Lower night-time temperatures are beneficial. The seed usually germinates in 7 - 10 days at 23°c[138]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings at any time during the growing season. Allow the cutting to dry in the sun for a day or two then pot up in a very sandy mix. Very easy[K].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Preferred Common Name: hottentot fig. English: ice plant (UK); kaffir fig (UK). Spanish: balsamo; higo del cabo; higo marino; patat frita. French: figue marine. Portuguese: choroes. Germany: Hottentottenfeige; Pferdefeige. Italy: fico degli Ottentotti. Portugal: bálsamo. South Africa: Cape fig; ghaukum; ghoenavy; hottentosvy; ikhambi-lamabulawo; kaapsevy; rankvy; sour fig; suurvy; umgongozi; vyerank. UK: Sally-my-handsome. USA: freeway iceplant.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Angola, Australia, Botswana, Britain, Canada, Central Africa, East Africa, Egypt, Europe, France, Greece, Hawaii, Ireland, Mediterranean, Mexico, Mozambique, New Zealand, North Africa, North America, Pacific, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, Tasmania, USA.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

This plant can be weedy or invasive. Carpobrotus edulis, native to South Africa, has naturalised in many other regions throughout the world, and is an invasive species in several parts, notably Australia, California and the Mediterranean

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Carpobrotus acinaciformisHottentot FigPerennial0.1 8-11  LNDM203
Carpobrotus aequilaterusSea FigPerennial0.2 7-10  LMNDM203
Carpobrotus deliciosusSweet Hottentot FigPerennial0.2 7-10  LMHSNM202
Carpobrotus glaucescensPigfacePerennial0.3 8-11  LMHSNDM322
Carpobrotus modestusInland PigfacePerennial0.2 8-11  LMHSNDM00 
Carpobrotus rossiiKarkallaPerennial0.2 8-11  LMHSNDM00 
Carpobrotus virescensCoastal PigfacePerennial0.5 8-11  LMHSNDM00 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Glenn du Preez   Tue May 2 2006

Please revise your medicinal properties of this genus - it is well known in South Africa (most species in the genus occurs here) for its medicinal properties Medicinal uses: Parts Used: Leaves and leaf juice. The juice of the leaf of Carpobrotus species is highly astringent and is used to treat mouth, throat and fungal infections. It is applied to wounds, burns and applied externally to treat eczema. The juice is also used internally for dysentry, digestive troubles, tuberculosis and as a diuretic and styptic. Also said to be effective against earache, toothache and oral and vaginal thrush. Preparation and Dosage: Gargle with the fresh leaf juice. Apply the juice or leaf pulp onto skin. Take juice internally.

Medicinal Succulents Medicinal Succulents

Glenn du Preez   Tue May 2 2006

Please revise your medicinal properties of this genus - it is well known in South Africa (most species in the genus occur here) for its medicinal properties A valued Khoi-Khoi and San remedy adopted by most other ethnic groups in South Africa, preparations of the leaf juice are taken by mouth to check diarrhoea and to treat tuberculosis and applied externally to burn wounds, sores or to the oral mucosa to treat thrush and ulcers. A gargle/mouthwash is used for sore throat or gum infections.

CARPOBROTUS EDULIS FOLIA Carpobrotus Edulis Folia consists of the fresh or dried leaves of Carpobrotus edulis (L.) L. Bol. (Aizoaceae)

Glenn du Preez   Tue May 2 2006

Please revise your medicinal properties of this genus - it is well known in South Africa (most species in the genus occur here) for its medicinal properties The astringent juice of the leaves is considered antiseptic by some authorities. It reportedly has been used to treat cuts, eczema, insect bites, ringworm and sunburn, and taken with water, it has been used for diarrhea and sore throat.

Hottentot Fig (Carpobrotus edulis) info on a certain fig

Teresa Wertsch   Tue May 16 2006

Please warn about this plant. It is very invasive, blocking out native grasses and plants. It changes the alkalinity of the soil making it too "salty" for other plants to live in.

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