Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Carpobrotus edulis
(L.) L.Bolus, Aizoaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  High risk, score: 9.5 (Go to the risk assessment)

Other Latin names:  Mesembryanthemum edule L.

Common name(s): [more details]

English: Hottentot fig, ice plant, pigface, sour-fig

French: figue marine

Spanish: doca, higo del Cabo, higo marino

Habit:  succulent

Description:  "A large perennial herb with succulent, opposite leaves and long, trailing stems that root at nodes and branch frequently.  Stems are 8-13 mm in diameter and up to 2 m long.  The dull to bright shining green leaves are triangulate in cross section, 4-10 cm long, 5-12 mm wide, straight or slightly curved, and finely toothed in the upper part.  The keel is usually reddish.  The large pink or yellow flowers are 6-9 cm in diameter and have pedicels of 1-2 cm length.  The fleshy fruits are globose to obovoid, 2.5-3 cm long, green at first, becoming purple red, and contain numerous black seeds of c. 1 mm length"  (Weber, 2003, p. 86).

"Stems spreading or prostrate, to 2 m long. Leaves 4-8 cm long, 8-17 mm wide, bright green, often tinged red along edges; adaxial and lateral surfaces distinctly concave; keel denticulate, sometimes only in upper portion. Flowers 7-8.5 cm in diameter; pedicels 10-20 mm long. Petal-like staminodes yellow changing to pink, usually densely streaked when dry; stamens 400-600, 6-7-seriate. Styles 8-10, free; ovary conical, barely compressed, convex on top." (Prescott and Venning, 1984; p. 26).

Key to species:
Carpobrotus edulis: Calyx club-shaped; petals usually yellow, top of the ovary elevated.
Carpobrotus acinaciformis:  Calyx oblong or nearly globose; petals rose- or purplish-pink; top of the ovary flat or slightly concave (Adamson & Salter, 1950; p. 390).

Habitat/ecology:  Widely planted as a soil binder on embankments and as an ornamental in coastal districts (Prescott and Venning, 1984; p. 26). Can form impenetrable mats that crowd out other species.  "Coastal dunes and cliffs, salt marshes, coastal scrub.  The extensive vegetative growth of this plant leads to the formation of extensive, impenetrable and species poor mats up to 50 cm thick that may cover large areas, displacing native beach vegetation and preventing the establishment of native plants.  In California, the plant poses a threat to several rare and endangered plant species. The plant grows both in moist and dry sites. Soils under mats of this plant are becoming increasingly acid"  (Weber, 2003; p. 86).

In New Zealand, "cliffs and sand dunes, coastal and inland on railway and roadside cuttings" (Webb et al., 1988; p. 95).

Propagation:  Seed and cuttings. "Fruits are eaten by mammals which effectively disperse the seeds"  (Weber, 2003; p. 86).

Native range:  South Africa; cultivated and naturalized elsewhere (GRIN).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más a Tierra (Robinson Crusoe Island) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Atkinson, Rachel/Sawyer, John (2011)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más a Tierra (Robinson Crusoe Island) introduced
invasive
Danton, Philippe/Perrier, Christophe/Martinez Reyes, Guido (2006) (p. 552)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más Afuera (Alejandro Selkirk Island) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Atkinson, Rachel/Sawyer, John (2011)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más Afuera (Alejandro Selkirk Island) introduced
invasive
Danton, Philippe/Perrier, Christophe/Martinez Reyes, Guido (2006) (p. 552)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J. (2004) (p. 42)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Cultivée
Pitcairn Islands
Pitcairn Islands
Pitcairn Island introduced
Meyer, Jean-Yves (2000) (p. 104)
"Cliffs; potential invader".
Pitcairn Islands
Pitcairn Islands
Pitcairn Island   Binggeli, P./Starmer, J. (1997)
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
Australia (continental) introduced
invasive
Weber, Ewald (2003) (p. 86)
Chile (continental)
Chile
Chile (Republic of) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Naturalized
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Baja California
Naturalized
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand (country) introduced
invasive
Webb, C. J./Sykes, W. R./Garnock-Jones, P. J. (1988) (p. 95)
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore (Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. (2009) (p. 24)
Cultivated only
United States (west coast)
United States (west coast states)
USA (California) introduced
invasive
Weber, Ewald (2003) (p. 86)
Also reported from
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
United States (continental except west coast)
United States (other states)
USA (Florida) introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Naturalized

Comments:  Naturalized in coastal southern and eastern Australia and in the US.

Control: 

Physical: Hand-pull individual plants and remove any buried stems. Mulch to prevent re-establishment. Large mats can be removed by rolling them up like a carpet (Randall et al.,1996).

Chemical:  Spray individual patches with glyphosate (Weber, 2003; p. 86).

Additional information:
Information from the Global Invasive Species Database.
Information sheet from Weedbusters New Zealand.

Additional online information about Carpobrotus edulis is available from the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR).

Information about Carpobrotus edulis as a weed (worldwide references) may be available from the Global Compendium of Weeds (GCW).

Taxonomic information about Carpobrotus edulis may be available from the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).

References:

Adamson, R. S./Salter, T. M. 1950. Flora of the Cape Peninsula. Juta & Co.

Atkinson, Rachel/Sawyer, John. 2011. Naturalized species in the Juan Fernández Archipelago, Chile. Unpublished spreadsheet.

Binggeli, P./Starmer, J. 1997. Pitcairn Island. Aliens 6:2.

Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. 2009. A checklist of the total vascular plant flora of Singapore: native, naturalised and cultivated species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore. 273 pp.

Danton, Philippe/Perrier, Christophe/Martinez Reyes, Guido. 2006. Nouveau catalogue de la flore vaculaire de l'archipel Juan Fernández (Chile) [Nuevo catálogo de la flora vacular del Archipélago Juan Fernández (Chile)]. Acta Bot. Gallica 153(4):399-587.

Florence, J. 2004. Flore de la PolynÚsie franšaise, Vol. 2. Paris. IRE Editions, Publications Scientifiques, Collection Faune et Flore Tropicales 41. 503 pp.

Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. 2013. Base de données botaniques Nadeaud de l'Herbier de la Polynésie Française (PAP). (online resource).

Meyer, Jean-Yves. 2000. Preliminary review of the invasive plants in the Pacific islands (SPREP Member Countries). In: Sherley, G. (tech. ed.). Invasive species in the Pacific: A technical review and draft regional strategy. South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Samoa. 190 pp.

Prescott, A./Venning, J. 1984. Flora of Australia. Vol 4, Aizoaceae. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

Randall, J. M./Marinelli, J. (eds.). 1996. Invasive plants: weeds of the global garden. Brooklyn Botanic Garden Handbook 149. 111 pp.

Staples, George W./Herbst, Derral R. 2005. A tropical garden flora: plants cultivated in the Hawaiian Islands and other tropical places. Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu. 908 pp.

U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. 2013. National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online searchable database.

Webb, C. J./Sykes, W. R./Garnock-Jones, P. J. 1988. Flora of New Zealand, Volume IV: Naturalised pteridophytes, gymnosperms, dicotyledons. Botany Division, DSIR, Christchurch. 1365 pp.

Weber, Ewald. 2003. Invasive plants of the World. CABI Publishing, CAB International, Wallingford, UK. 548 pp.


Need more info? Have questions? Comments? Information to contribute? Contact PIER! (pier@hear.org)

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This page was created on 1 JAN 1999 and was last updated on 9 MAR 2013.