Tag Archives: Plants

Ice Plant: Hottentot Fig

One of the more noticeable plants in southern California is the Ice Plant, Carpobrotus edulis. It is also known as Hottentot Fig or Sour Fig. Ice Plants seem to grow everywhere here. They have beautiful large yellow flowers that catch the eye. Besides being pretty, the ice plant has a variety of uses.

1-FlowerThis is an ice plant flower. The blooms are large, two or more inches across, and I have seen them in yellow and pink.

2-Leaf Cross-sectionThe leaves are triangular and succulent. Because they are full of water, they are resistant to fires. One of the main landscaping uses of the ice plant is as a fire barrier. By planting a dense patch of ice plants, people can protect their houses from the wildfires that are so common here in the west.

4-Large PatchAs you can see, ice plants grow very densely, excluding other plants. This prevents other, more flammable plants from growing in the otherwise fireproof ice plant barrier. They also have short but strong roots that are used to prevent erosion. This makes them useful on slopes and dunes where erosion can cause serious damage. It was first imported to stabilize the ground around railroads. On the other hand, it is very heavy because it is full of water, and the weight has caused some slopes to collapse.

3-FruitsThe ice plant grows fat, succulent fruits after it blooms. They start off green, and ripen to yellow or even reddish.

5-FruitThe skin of ice plants is extremely astringent. I tasted it, and it made my mouth completely pucker up. The leaves are considered edible, but I would peel them first. I have read that chewing on the tip of a leaf (nearly all skin) is a remedy for sore throats. On the other hand, once you cut open a fruit…

6-Fruit Cross-sectionThe inside of the fruits is filled with a seedy pulp, that is very edible. You can see the comparison with figs clearly here. I couldn’t find a ripe fruit for the photos, but the flavor is sweet, tangy, and a bit salty since it grows by the coast. Quite tasty, and a good source of moisture in such a dry climate.

A word of warning: This plant can become invasive very easily. It was imported from South Africa, where it is native, to prevent erosion, and has quickly spread everywhere. If you grow it, take care that it does not spread out of your control.

~The Homesteading Hippy

Southern California: First Nature Walk

I have been trying to locate a park close to where I live. I knew it was there, and have made several fruitless expeditions in search of it. Today, I stuck gold! Guajome County Park in Vista is a beautiful place to hike. Here are just a few of the things I saw during the four hours I was out. Continue reading

Regrowing Celery, Saving Money!

I don’t know if I’m unusual about this, but I rarely use celery unless I’m making soup or stew. When I do, I need to buy a bag of celery, use two sticks, and promise myself to find a use for the rest. Then I forget, and have to compost the rest two weeks later… Continue reading

Taking Stock

Now that the weather is warming up (it still snowed this morning) I’m thinking about starting seeds indoors for the season. Thanks to our good friend, Global Warming, this year’s average last frost is predicted to occur around May 8. As such, it’s time to start my early transplants. In preparation for this I took a look at my stock of seeds from last year, and made a plan for this year’s garden. Continue reading

At Last! I’ve found Spring!

I ended my last post with a quote. Now, I’d like to begin this post with another. This is from the Tao Te Ching, and brings together my thoughts of springtime and tranquility.

“Attain the ultimate emptiness
Hold on to the truest tranquility
The myriad things are all active
I therefore watch their return Continue reading