Carpobrotus edulis Azoiaceae Hottentot Fig

Picture 1 Invading Coastal Grassland at Fort Pezeries

Carpobrotus edulis 34kb

Description - A large, spreading succulent, forming mats of thick, green leaves which are triangular in section and 5-16cm in length. The flowers are either magenta or yellow with a yellow centre, (you may find both on the same plant) and up to 6cm across. They are followed by a reddish fruit, which is roughly fig-shaped. In our climate this does not ripen sufficiently to be pleasant eating.

Habitat - This plant will grow all over the place, but prefers full sun, and poor, sandy soil. Thus it is found all around the coast, on the cliffs, and into the spray zone, where it can tolerate a certain amount of salt.

Comments - The Hottentot Fig comes from South Africa, where the fruit is commonly made into jam.It has been known in the island since the 1880s, and maybe before. In the past it has been intentionally planted so as to cover up some of our concrete fortifications, which it is very capable of achieving, however, it then spreads onwards over coastal turf, drowining out small, native and soemtimes rare species. The terrific spread on the cliffs is said to be partly due to seagulls using bits as nesting material.In earlier years the spread was severely checked by heavy frosts, but we have not had these for fifteen or more years, so it continues to overwhelm us, and needs control. At Fort Pezeries it is being tackled by the Guernsey Conservation Volunteers.

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