Carpobrotus edulis - (L.) L. Bolus
Hottentot-fig
Other English Common Names: Common Hottentot-fig
Other Common Names: hottentot fig
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Carpobrotus edulis (L.) N.E. Br. (TSN 19934)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.132600
Element Code: PDAIZ02020
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Fig-Marigold Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Caryophyllales Aizoaceae Carpobrotus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Carpobrotus edulis
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States California (SNA), Florida (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Native to South Africa. Introduced into the western United States in the early 1900s. It is found in California and Florida (Hickman 1993; Clewell 1985). In California, it is found along the North, Central and South coasts and in the Channel Islands; it extends to Mexico (Hickman 1993).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Native to South Africa. Introduced into the western United States in the early 1900s. It is found in California and Florida (Hickman 1993; Clewell 1985). In California, it is found along the North, Central and South coasts and in the Channel Islands; it extends to Mexico (Hickman 1993).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CAexotic, FLexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Succulent-leaved perennial shrub.
Technical Description: Carpobrotus edulis is a perennial shrub; stems are less than 3 meters long, trailing, rooting at nodes, and forming extensive mats; leaves are opposite, fleshy; 6-10 cm in length, 10-15 mm in diameter, widest below the middle, the outer leaf angle is serrate near the tip, not glaucous; flowering branches are ascending; flowers are solitary, terminal, and peduncled, five sepals 3-4 cm, petals free, showy, 3-4 cm, pink or yellow aging pink; stamens many, erect; ovary inferior, chambers 8-20, styles 0, stigmas 8-20, sessile, linear, hairy; fruit berry-like, fleshy, indehiscent; seeds many (Hickman 1993).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Carpobrotus is the only genus in the family Aizoaceae to produce an edible berry, the hottentot fig (Heywood 1993). Within this genus, C. edulis is similar to C. chilensis but may be distinguished by its leaves which are somewhat curved, serrate on the outer angle near the tip, and not glaucous (Hickman 1993).
Reproduction Comments: Carpobrotus edulis can reproduce either by seed or vegetatively from broken stem fragments that rapidly root to form new plants (Mulroy et al. 1993). In California, C. edulis is dispersed by several native mammals. Deer and jack rabbits may bring C. edulis seeds into recently burned areas (D'Antonio et al. 1993).
Ecology Comments: In California, C. edulis is abundant in burned or otherwise disturbed maritime chaparral, but does not appear to invade undisturbed mature chaparral. A study by D'Antonio et al. (1993) on the roles of fire and herbivory in invasion of C. edulis into maritime chaparral found that herbivory, particularly by brush rabbits (Sylvilagus bachmanii), limits seedling establishment in burned and unburned sites. At the same time, herbivores, especially deer, are also seed dispersers. When seeds were abundant in deer scat and in the soil before burns, burning did not enhance germination, but they found that the post-burn soil environment, however, supported C. edulis growth in excess of herbivore use, promoting its establishment (D'Antonio et al. 1993).
Habitat Comments: This species is invasive in California and is commonly found in many coastal habitats, especially on sand. It is planted widely along highways and for dune stabilization (Hickman 1993).
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Carpobrotus edulis is a hardy perennial that survives most winters in coastal areas and is extensively planted as a sandbinder (Heywood 1993).
Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Control of C. edulis is complicated by its ability to resprout from stem pieces, alter soil chemistry, and build up huge biomass in areas it infests. Preliminary results from management studies on Vandenberg Air Force Base show that C. edulis can be controlled with the herbicide glyphosate (e.g., Roundup). Carefully applied chemical treatments resulted in very little damage to nearby native species. Further experiments should help to provide more information on restoring dune scrub communities after infestation of C. edulis (Mulroy et al. 1992).
Species Impacts: In areas where it has been introduced, Carpobrotus edulis can readily overgrow native species and its invasion into burned chaparral habitat in California can severely impact vegetative recovery. In California, C. edulis invasion threatens many of the endemic and declining plant taxa found in maritime chaparral habitat (D'Antonio et al. 1993).

The mat-forming habit that is characteristic of C. edulis can smother and kill native vegetation. The mechanism by which "smothering" occurs is unknown but may include one or many of the following: uptake of water or nutrients, shading, or alteration of soil chemistry. C. edulis acidifies the soil, which may impede recolonization by native species into areas that were once infested by C. edulis (Mulroy et al. 1992).

Management Requirements: Manual control methods are not recommended for C. edulis because they are unlikely to kill the plant due to its ability to resprout from stem pieces. Also, manual control can be more labor intensive and more disruptive to habitat than chemical control methods. The herbicide glyphosate (e.g., Roundup) has been demonstrated to be effective in controlling this species (Mulroy et al. 1992).

Prescribed burning also has been recommended as a possible control for C. edulis. Conditions for prescribed burning should be controlled to maximize the likelihood of high (i.e., over 100 celsius) soil temperatures during fire, thereby reducing viability of the Carpobrotus seedbank. Also, because brush rabbits are effective at reducing seedling establishment and they tend to forage less than 30 m from cover, it may be possible to enhance herbivore use of burns by keeping the burned areas small (D'Antonio et al. 1993).


Management Programs: An experiment in Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, tested the minimum effective concentration of the herbicide glyphosate (this experiment used Roundup) for control of C. edulis. Sixteen herbicide test plots were established using 4 different concentrations of Roundup (2.0 percent, 1.5 percent, 1.0 percent, and 0.5 percent) on 4 different densities of C. edulis (sparse, moderate, dense, and solid). All concentrations resulted in damage and some mortality of C. edulis. The higher concentrations produced more rapid and more complete kills than lower concentrations. The speed of kill is considered important because damaged or dying C. edulis may send out adventitious roots and be revived by seasonal rainfall. The researchers found very little incidental damage to native plants in the herbicide test plots (Mulroy et al. 1992).

Following the dose experiment, a large-scale C. edulis treatment was attempted in Vandenberg Air Force Base using 2 percent Roundup. The chemical treatment was carried out on 350 acres known to be infested with C. edulis. To minimize indirect effects on native plants, application of Roundup was not used around aquatic or wetland habitats or at windspeeds of over 5mph. At least initially, this experiment plans to leave dead C. edulis plants in place to decompose, which is believed to continue to stabilize soil while allowing native species to gradually take over (Mulroy et al. 1992).

Monitoring Programs: On Vandenberg Air Force Base, a monitoring program has been set up to determine the results of a large-scale C. edulis control experiment. Monitoring will specifically identify the effectiveness of the chemical control (e.g., percent of plants killed and areas that need retreatment), reestablishment of C. edulis from seedbank, and recolonization of treated areas by other weeds versus native species (Mulroy et al. 1992).
Management Research Programs: Current management research programs on Vandenberg Air Force Base include a revegetation experiment within a large-scale treatment area for C. edulis. A number of factors potentially affecting revegetation in the treatment areas will be investigated. The following factors will be tested: removal of treated C. edulis versus leaving it to decompose; reseeding with native species versus reliance on natural dispersal and seedbanks; and neutralizing acidified soil with lime versus no lime. In addition, experiments are being set up to determine the possibility of developing methods of C. edulis treatment and on-site disposal of dead plants while promoting revegetation of native species (Mulroy et al. 1992).
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: High
Rounded I-Rank: High
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Carpobrotus edulis smothers invaded communities beneath its dense canopy. It is also associated with altering ecosystem processes such as fire regime and water availability.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: High
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Low/Insignificant
I-Rank Review Date: 25Feb2004
Evaluator: Fellows, M.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: South Africa (Randall and Marianelli 1996).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: (Randall and Marianelli 1996).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: High

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Moderate significance
Comments: Lower's soil pH, stabilizes dunes, accumulates organic matter, alters root morphology of native shrubs (Bossard et al. 2000).

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:High significance
Comments: Covers canopy which reduces light availability and number of layers of vegetaton below (Randall and Marianelli 1996).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:High significance
Comments: Forms a monoculture (Randall and Marianelli 1996).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:High significance
Comments: Impacts rare and endangered species (Randall and Marianelli 1996). (e.g. Lasthenia glabrata ssp. coulteri and Cordylanthus maritimus ssp. maritimus (Fellows, pers. observ.)).

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:High significance
Comments: Impacts rare and endangered communities (coastal bluffs, salt marshes, dunes) (Randall and Marianelli 1996).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:Low significance
Comments: Only reported from CA and FL (Kartesz 1999). In 1980s, ~15,000 ha of C. edulis was planted along California's state highways (Esler and Rundel 1995).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:High significance
Comments: Negatively impacting biodiversity throughout range in CA (Randall and Marianelli 1996). Unknown in FL.

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Low significance
Comments: <5 Ecoregions - inferred (Kartesz 1999; TNC 2001). Limited to coastal CA (Randall and Marianelli 1996). Limited to well-drained areas of FL (Gilman 1999).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Invades coastal communities (Randall and Marianelli 1996). Coastal dune, coastal sage, chaparral (Esler et al. 1995).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Stable in range, has not spread out of CA except to FL where it was deliberately planted (Gilman 1999; Kartesz 1999). Recently invaded new habitat type (Maritime scrub) in California (Bossard et al. 2000).

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:High significance
Comments: (Gilman 1999).

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:Low significance
Comments: Can be dispersed by mammals, vegetatively (Randall and Marianelli 1996) or by deliberate planting by humans (Gilman 1999).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Spreads rapidly from initial point by forming a dense mat (Randall and Marianelli 1996; Bossard et al. 2000).

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Establishes following disturbance or after deliberate planting, also know to establish in mature dune and coastal prairie communities following dispersal by native rodents (Randall and Marianelli 1996; Bossard et al. 2000).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Low significance
Comments: Invades coastal areas in Australia (Schmalzer and Hinkle 1987).

16. Reproductive Characteristics:High significance
Comments: Stems root at every node, fruits mature year-round, rapid growth (1 m/yr, 3 ft/yr) (Bossard et al. 2000). 5.3 million seeds/ha (Schmalzer and Hinkle 1987).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Low/Insignificant

17. General Management Difficulty:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Hand pulling, herbicide recommended (Bossard et al. 2000). Must remove all live material as it will resprout (ibid.). Use bobcat or tractor in absence of sensitive species (ibid.).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: To effectively remove seedlings and resprouts, treatment must continue for several months (Bossard et al. 2000).

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Insignificant
Comments: Hand pulling and targeted herbicide use should have minimal impact on native species (Bossard et al. 2000).

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Inferred - coastal cliffs may pose access difficulties, private land owners on eroding beaches will not want their 'effective' groundcover removed.
Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 12Apr1996
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Benton, N.
Management Information Edition Date: 12Apr1996
Management Information Edition Author: Benton, N.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 12Apr1996
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): BENTON, N.

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Bossard, C.C., J.M. Randall, and M. Hoshovsky. (eds.) 2000. Invasive Plants of California's Wildlands. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

  • Clewell, A.F. 1985. Guide to vascular plants of the Florida panhandle. Florida State Univ. Press, Tallahassee, Florida. 605 pp.

  • D'Antonio, C.M., D.C. Odion, and C.M. Tyler. 1993. Invasion of maritime chaparral by the introduced succulent Carpobrotus edulis: the roles of fire and herbivory. Oecologia 95:14-21.

  • Esler, K. and P. Rundel. 1995. The Tip of the Iceberg. Veld & Flora 81(1):12.

  • Esler, K., P. Rundel and P. Connors. 1995. All that glisters...iceplants that leave California cold. Veld & Flora 81(1):12-13.

  • Gilman, E. 1999. UF FACT SHEET FPS-109: Carpobrotus edulis. ONLINE . Accessed 2003, December.

  • Heywood, V.H. (ed.). 1993. Flowering Plants of the World. Updated edition. Oxford University Press, New York. 336 pp.

  • Hickman, J. C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 1400 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Mulroy, T.W., M.L. Dungan, R.E. Rich, and B.C. Mayerle. 1992. Wildland weed control in sensitive natural communities: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in: proceedings of the 44th Annual California Weed Conference. Sacramento, California.

  • Randall, J.M. and J. Marinelli (eds.) 1996. Invasive plants: weeds of the global garden. Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York.

  • Schmalzer, P.A. and C.R. Hinkle. 1987. Species biology and potential for controlling four exotic plants (Ammophila arenaria, Carpobrotus edulis, Cortaderia jubata, and Gasoul Crystallinum) on Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The Bionetics Corp., NASA.

  • The Nature Conservancy. 2001. Map: TNC Ecoregions of the United States. Modification of Bailey Ecoregions. Online . Accessed May 2003.

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