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).


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.