Hottentots Fig

Name

Hottentots Fig, Sour Fig or Ice Plant

Latin Name

Carpobrotus edulis

Habitat

The Hottentots Fig is a coastal creeper found on rocky outcrops and dunes that are already partly stabilised. The flowers are actively pollinated by a range of insects. There are several Carpobrotus species, some of which are used world-wide to stabilise shifting sands.

Fruit

The fruits of the Hottentot fig are succulent and edible and may be dried or used to make jams.

Description

The plant sends out long runners with pairs of succulent leaves that are triangular in section. The flowers are purple, large and showy, and superficially daisy-like. Size: Leaves 50 mm long; flowers 70 mm in diametre.

Field Notes

Named for its edible fruit the Sour Fig is fed on by a number of species, with tortoises feeding on the leaves and Baboons and antelope preferring the flowers and fruits.

Rodents such as porcupines also feed on the fruits and humans use the fruits to make sauces and jams. The flowers are pollinated by bees and a range of beetle species. Seeds are dispersed through the excretion of the species that feed on them.

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