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For the industrial rock supergroup, see Pigface.
Carpobrotus April 2013-1.jpg
Carpobrotus edulis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Aizoaceae
Genus: Carpobrotus

Carpobrotus, commonly known as pigface, ice plant, and Hottentot plant, 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".[1]

The genus includes some 12 to 20 accepted species. Most are South African, endemics, but there are at least four Australian species and one South American.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

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[2] and as food for wildlife.[3]


The fruit of various species of Carpobrotus is eaten by many animals and birds that also spread its seed. In this way the seeds of invasive species in for example the United States, are spread by bears and deer.[4]


Carpobrotus acinaciformis, known in the United States as icicle plant, strand ivy, Cape fig, Hottentot fig, and sour fig, is often used for groundcover due to its rapid growth, dense habit, and resistance to fire.[5] Carpobrotus are also drought resistant.

Medicinal and nutritional value[edit]

C. glaucescens is noted for its salty fruit, a rare property in fruits.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]


The following list excludes names regarded as synonyms, but includes species whose status still is unresolved.[10]



  1. ^ Hyam, R. & Pankhurst, R.J. (1995). Plants and their names : a concise dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-19-866189-4. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ African Succulent Plants
  6. ^ Is there a salty fresh fruit?
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Uses & Cultural Aspects
  9. ^ Watt, John Mitchell; Breyer-Brandwijk, Maria Gerdina: The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa 2nd ed Pub. E & S Livingstone 1962
  10. ^ The Plant List (2010). Version 1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 2013, September.)

External links[edit]