Carpobrotus, commonly known as pigface, ice plant, sour fig, and Hottentot fig, is a genus of ground-creeping plants with succulent leaves and large daisy-like flowers. The name refers to the edible fruits. It comes from the Ancient Greek karpos "fruit" and brotos "edible".
Distribution and habitat
Carpobrotus chiefly inhabits sandy coastal habitats in mild Mediterranean climates, and can be also found inland in sandy to marshy places. In general, they prefer open sandy spaces where their wiry, long roots with shorter side branches form dense underground network, which extends much further than above-ground prostrate branches. Plants thrive well in gardens, but can easily escape to other suitable places. They easily form wide-area ground covers over a sandy soil, which easily suppresses indigenous sand dune vegetation when Carpobrotus is introduced to a non-native area.
Carpobrotus is native to South Africa, south Australian coast and coastal Chile. As an introduced species, it became widespread on similar habitats in the Northern Hemisphere: Pacific coast of the United States; Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Europe; and New Zealand.
The fruit of various species of Carpobrotus is eaten by many animals and birds that also spread its seed.
Various Carpobrotus species are invasive introduced species in suitable climates throughout the world. The harm they do is variable, and sometimes hotly debated, when balanced against their value as firebreaks and as food for wildlife. Seeds are spread by mammals such as deer, rabbits, and rodents eating mature fruit.
Medicinal and nutritional value
Carpobrotus leaf juice can be used as a mild astringent. Applied to the skin, it is a popular emergency treatment for jellyfish and similar stings. When mixed with water it can be used to treat diarrhea and stomach cramps. It can also be used as a gargle for sore throat, laryngitis, and mild bacterial infections of the mouth. It can also be used externally, much like aloe vera, for wounds, mosquito bites and sunburn. It is also used to treat skin conditions. It was a remedy for tuberculosis mixed with honey and olive oil. The fruit has been used as a laxative.
The following list excludes names regarded as synonyms, but includes species whose status still is unresolved.
- Carpobrotus acinaciformis (L.) L.Bolus
- Carpobrotus aequilaterus (Haw.) N.E.Br.
- Carpobrotus chilensis (Molina) N.E.Br.
- Carpobrotus deliciosus (L.Bolus) L.Bolus
- Carpobrotus dimidiatus (Haw.) L.Bolus
- Carpobrotus edulis (L.) N.E.Br.
- Carpobrotus glaucescens (Haw.) Schwantes
- Carpobrotus mellei (L.Bolus) L.Bolus
- Carpobrotus modestus S.T.Blake
- Carpobrotus muirii (L.Bolus) L.Bolus
- Carpobrotus praecox (F.Muell.) G.D.Rowley specific status unresolved.
- Carpobrotus pulleinei J.M.Black specific status unresolved.
- Carpobrotus quadrifidus L.Bolus
- Carpobrotus rossii (Haw.) Schwantes
- Carpobrotus virescens (Haw.) Schwantes
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- Hartmann, Heidrun E. K. (6 December 2012). "Carpobrotus". Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Aizoaceae A-E. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 97–98. ISBN 978-3-642-56306-5.
- "Sea figs (Genus Carpobrotus)". iNaturalist. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
- Ken Fern (1997). Plants for a Future: Edible & Useful Plants for a Healthier World. Permanent Publications. pp. 165–. ISBN 978-1-85623-011-7. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
- Carla C. Bossard; John M. Randall; Marc C. Hoshovsky (2000). Invasive Plants of California's Wildlands. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-22547-3. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
- "IPCW Plant Report – California Invasive Plant Council". cal-ipc.org. 2017-10-16. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
- "Is there a salty fresh fruit?". www.abc.net.au. 11 June 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
- D. J. Mabberley (1 May 2008). Mabberley's Plant-book: A Portable Dictionary of Plants, Their Classifications, and Uses. Cambridge University Press. pp. 154–. ISBN 978-0-521-82071-4. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
- Uses & Cultural Aspects
- Watt, John Mitchell; Breyer-Brandwijk, Maria Gerdina: The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa 2nd ed Pub. E & S Livingstone 1962
- "Carpobrotus". The Plant List. Missouri Botanical Garden. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.CS1 maint: others (link)
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