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Hottentot-fig, Highway Ice Plant, Sour Fig, Pigface
Facts & Folkore:
This ground-creeping plant with succulent leaves is native to South Africa. It has also been known as Hottentot-fig, highway ice plant, sour fig, or pigface, and is a member of the fig-marigold family.
Carpobrotus is derived from the Greek, karpos, meaning fruit, and brotos, meaning edible. The fruits resemble figs and can be eaten raw, dried, cooked, pickled, or made into chutneys and preserves. The succulent leaves can be used in salads or as a substitute for the pickled cucumber.
Flowers are pollinated by solitary bees, honey bees, carpenter bees, and many beetle species and provides a food source for many animals. Leaves are eaten by tortoises; flowers are eaten by antelopes and baboons; fruits are eaten by baboons, rodents, porcupines, antelopes, who also disperse the seeds. Clumps provide shelter for snails, lizards, and skinks. Puff adders and other snakes, such as the Cape cobra, are often found in its clumps, where they ambush the small rodents attracted by the fruits!
However, although a food source for animals in native regions, Carpobrotus edulis has naturalised throughout the world, and is considered an invasive species in several parts, notably Australia, California and the Mediterranean, all of which have similar climates, creating vast monospecific zones and competing directly with several threatened or endangered plant species.
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