Aizoaceae family - The Carpobrotus Dimidiatus

The Carpobrotus dimidiatus comes from the Aizoaceae family, and is a common groundcover in the coastal areas of South Africa, due to its hardy nature and pretty appearance.

Did you know? Due to the very varied climates and topography of South Africa, it is able to support a number of biomes.

The pretty pink to purple-pink flower of the Carpobrotus dimidiatus is complemented by evergreen succulent leaves that provide quite a dense cover. They do not grow particularly high (averaging between 15 and 30 centimetres), but spread outwards, covering a large proportion of ground. The leaves are not particularly long, but are sword-shaped. The petals are very thin, almost needle-like in appearance.

Description

The pretty pink to purple-pink flower of the Carpobrotus dimidiatus is complemented by evergreen succulent leaves that provide quite a dense cover. They do not grow particularly high (averaging between 15 and 30 centimetres), but spread outwards, covering a large proportion of ground. The leaves are not particularly long, but are sword-shaped. The petals are very thin, almost needle-like in appearance.

Use in the garden

Also known as the sour fig, the Carpobrotus dimidiatus fruit is edible. It is a particular favourite of tortoises, rodents and other little animals.

The dense nature of the vegetation binds the soil, preventing it from washing or blowing away. In addition, the leaves can be pounded, and the juice that comes out is used by some as a gargle for sore throats, as well as an applicant for thrush. It is also used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery, or as a soak for burn wounds. The fruit can be consumed by humans as well. It can be enjoyed raw and unprocessed, or made into a jam. It has a laxative effect, though, so only small quantities should be consumed at once.

Flowering time

Due to its thriving in hot, sunny conditions, the Carpobrotus dimidiatus flowers during the summer months. This can extend into early autumn, depending on the weather conditions. In South Africa, this means that it is most commonly seen in bloom between December and about April.

Natural distribution

Although most commonly found in the balmy province of KwaZulu-Natal, the Carpobrotus dimidiatus can also be found extensively in the Eastern Cape, and up into Mozambique. It adorns the sand dunes of these areas, giving them a unique scrubby type of beauty and contributing enormously to the biodiversity of these coastlines.

Growing Carpobrotus dimidiatus in your garden

This pretty succulent does well in full sun, or a sunny area that gets partial shade. It needs regular watering, but not in huge volumes.

The soil should be quite neutral in terms of its acidic levels, but there is a little room for its veering towards alkaline or acid quite safely. However, the type of soil (clay, loam, etc...) does not seem to affect the plantís ability to thrive, making it ideal for a diverse set of conditions.

Propagation

The Carpobrotus dimidiatus can be easily propagated by using the woody stem cuttings, which should be allowed to form a callous before replanting. In addition, growing from seed is relatively simply. The seeds should be allowed to dry, and should be cleaned if they are to be stored for favourable planting conditions.

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