Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Viewing the Ice Plant with New Eyes

I never thought I would one day be extolling the virtues of the ice plant (its botanical name is Carpobrotus, which incidentally means "edible fruit" in Greek). Seen in a home landscape , it seems coarse, plasticky, with very bright blooms, lacking subtlety and elegance. It is also incredibly invasive, and has colonized large areas in California, Australia and the Mediterranean. The list of its drawbacks is long, but there is a good side to it as well. On a grand scale (and out of bloom) the visual impact of ice plant colonies is striking.

Covering the shoreline hills, the ice plant's foliage creates a soft impressionistic effect. Even close up, these succulent leaves are beautiful, like little flames shimmering in the sunlight.

I was glad to see there weren't too many blooms this time of year. They're commonly harsh neon pink...

...or a much softer buttery yellow, but still a bit coarse to my eye:

Whatever its faults, I will think of it always as a great foliage plant forming gentle waves of color in the diffused wintery rays of sun.


  1. Invasive? Not here! I like this plant and wouldn't mind to have more of it in my garden. Masha, your pictures are wonderful!

  2. Thank you for stopping by. The ice plant is invasive in the Mediterranean climates which it likes best. It colonizes huge areas and smothers all native vegetation. There are several species of it, and perhaps yours is one of the less invasive ones:-). Whatever it is, I am happy you like it.


I am so glad you have stopped by!