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Mesembryanthemum crystallinum - L.

Common Name Ice Plant, Common iceplant
Family Aizoaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Maritime sands and salt marshes[50].
Range S. Africa. Introduced and naturalized in S. Europe.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Mesembryanthemum crystallinum Ice Plant, Common iceplant

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum Ice Plant, Common iceplant


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Mesembryanthemum crystallinum is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9 and is frost tender. It is in flower from July to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) 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.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Carpobrotus crystallinum. Cryophytum crystallinum.

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds; East Wall. In. South Wall. In. West Wall. In.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves  Seed
Edible Uses:

Leaves and stems - raw or cooked[27, 52, 84, 95, 264]. They can be used as a spinach substitute[2]. The leaves have an acid flavour, they are thick and very succulent with a slightly salty tang[183]. They can also be pickled like cucumbers or used as a garnish[183]. Fruit[84, 106]. No more details are given. Seed - a famine food used when all else fails[177].

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.
Demulcent  Diuretic  Dysentery  Urinary

The plant is demulcent and diuretic[240]. It is used in the treatment of inflammations of the pulmonary and genito-urinary mucous membranes[240]. The leaves are used in the treatment of ascites, dysentery and diseases of the liver and kidney[240].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


The crushed foliage is a soap substitute[84].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Easily grown in an ordinary well-drained garden soil[1, 52]. Succeeds in any well-drained low-fertility soil so long as it is in a sunny position[200]. A very ornamental plant, it is occasionally cultivated for its edible leaves[1, 264]. It is not very hardy in Britain and will be killed even by a light frost[264]. It is, therefore, usually grown as a half-hardy annual, being sown in a greenhouse in the spring and used for summer bedding[52]. Plants have few problems with pests or diseases though the young plants are prone to root rot and damping off unless given plenty of ventilation and dry growing conditions[200].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse, only just covering the seed. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Seedlings are prone to damp off so should not be over watered and should be kept in a very sunny well-ventilated position[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

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

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Juana del Castillo   Sun Oct 21 08:53:25 2001

If you want to know more information about diferrent uses of this plant you can get contact with Biologic University in Canary Islands(Facultad de Biologia de la Universidad de La Laguna. Botanic Departament. Islas Canarias). We know the plant with the common name of: Barrilla. This plant had an important roll in the economy of the Canary Islands. (In Spanish: Si quieren recopilar mas informacion acerca del uso de esta planta pueden ponerse en contacto con la Universidad de La Laguna, en las Islas Canarias. Ellos poseen amplia informacion sobre la misma y sobre su historia y usos. Esta planta tuvo un importante papel economico en el archipielago durante las pasadas centurias. En Canarias se la conoce con el nombre comun de: Barrilla.)

Sophie   Tue Jan 11 17:26:16 2005

I am searching information about the way to collect the seeds from the tiny fruits of this plant. I picked them last automn, before the first frost.

Robin Bate   Tue Sep 29 2009

on eof the ingriedents in Dr Hauschka treatment no 3 for skin

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