Carpobrotus chilensis (Molina) N.E. Br.
Carpobrotus aequilateralus auct. non (Haw.) N.E. Br.
Mesembryanthemum chilense Molina
Sea fig is so named because it occurs along the Pacific coast, and because it produces a fruit like a small fig that, although not especially appetizing, is edible. (Carpobrotus means “edible fruit,” and chilensis means “from Chile,” rather odd, since it is from South Africa.) It is a native of South Africa. Introduced to North America, it is become naturalized along the west coast, where it is often considered invasive.
Identification: Flowers are very colorful, almost fluorescent. Common along the Pacific coast. It is a smaller version of Carpobrotus edulis. These are compared below:
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|Plant||A few inches high, with stems that creep along the ground, spreading quickly.||3-4" (7.6-10 cm) high, with stems that creep along the ground, spreading quickly.|
|Flowers||Dark pink or purple. Larger, 1½-2½" (3.8-6.3 cm) in diameter.||Smaller, 2½-6" (6.3-15 cm) in diameter, yellow or light pink.|
|Leaves||Triangular cross section, 1½" (3.8 cm) long||Up to 5" (13 cm) long, dense, triangular in cross-section. Green or yellow-green leaves may be tinged with red.|
|Fruit||Green to yellowish, roughly oval||About 1½" (3.8 cm) in diameter, shaped like a spinning top.|
USDA Zones: 9b-11
USDA Zones: 9-11
|Habitats||Coastal sage scrub||Coastal sage scrub|
|Occurrence||Common, fairly invasive||Invasive in California, Australia, and the Mediterranean|
Carpobrotus chilensis at the Oregon Flora Image Project
Carpobrotus chilensis on Desert-tropicals.com
Carpobrotus chilensis at the California Invasive Plant Council
Carpobrotus chilensis on CalPhotos
Carpobrotus chilensis on ZipcodeZoo.com
Carpobrotus chilensis on eFloras
Carpobrotus chilensis from the Jepson Manual
Carpobrotus chilensis description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 12 Oct 2018.
Range: Zones 9b-11: