The Carpobrotus are large, trailing, leaf succulent perennials. They have long stems that root at the nodes, with triangular leaves, occasionally tinged with red, that varies depending on the growing conditions. They grow on the Pacific coast of the Americas, in South Africa and southern Australia. The name Carpobrotus comes from the Greek for "edible fruit". Most species grow in coastal regions, and do well in sandy areas. They can be useful to hold drifting sand, and to colonize rapidly disturbed areas where water is of limited availability. They have been introduced and have been naturalized in many coastal areas of the world where they can be quite invasive. Most species bloom in early summer and will take some frost.
|Robust fleshy perennial plant with prostrate
stems up to 1 m long. Leaves triangular in section, opposite bases stem-clasping,
tips pointed. These act as water storage organs enabling the plant to
survive hot dry summers on coastal cliffs and sand.
Flowers light purple 4-6 cm diameter, solitary on ends of short lateral branches, with a fleshy calyx and many shining narrow strap-shaped petals about 2 cm long in several rows. Stamens many, filaments white. Fruit fleshy, fig-like, yellowish when ripe,
seeds small. Edible. Flowering spring and summer. Widespread, common in coastal areas on rocky headlands and sand dunes. Tas. Vic. SA. (Information courtesy Launceston Field Naturalist Club)
Native Pig Face
Round-leaved Pig Face
Fleshy perennial herb spreading by prostrate stems
and rooting at nodes so forming mats in salty soil at margins of salt marshes
and within spray zone on rocks and cliffs. Leaves rather club shaped, 2-5
cm long, rounded, thick and succulent with water storage tissues, blunt
and often reddish at the apex. Flowers 3 cm across, terminal on short shoots.
Petals very numerous, strap shaped, light magenta, white towards the centre,
occasionally all white. Fruit succulent at first, becoming dry and opening
by slits. Flowering spring and summer. Tas. and temperate mainland Australia.
|A closely related Carpobrotus (C. edulis)
from South Africa has become naturalised and can be found growing alongside
the native species, recognisable by its yellow flowers.
(In South Africa this plant is known as "fig-marigold")