Herb: Hottentot Fig


Latin name: Carpobrotus edulis


Synonyms: Mesembryanthemum edule


Family: Aizoaceae (Fig-marigold Family)



Edible parts of Hottentot Fig:

Fruit - raw, cooked, dried for later use or made into pickles, chutney etc. There is very little flesh in the fruit and it must be fully ripe otherwise it is very astringent. Mucilaginous and sweetly acid. Leaves - raw or cooked. Succulent, they are eaten in salads and can also be used as a substitute for pickled cucumber. We find them too mucilaginous to be enjoyable.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
10 cm
(4 inches)

Flovering:
May to
July

Habitat of the herb:

Sandy and rocky places by the sea. Naturalized on cliffs and banks by the sea in Cornwall and S. Devon.

Other uses of Hottentot Fig:

Used in maritime areas to prevent soil erosion in sandy soils. Plants form a dense carpet and make an effective ground cover. Can be grown as a fire barrier in areas subject to forest fires, it is moderately fire retardant. The dried leaves contain about 19.4% tannin and the dry stems 14.2%. Yields of 1700 kilos per hectare of cultivated plants have been achieved.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - surface sow March to June in a greenhouse. Lower night-time temperatures are beneficial. The seed usually germinates in 7 - 10 days at 23C. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings at any time during the growing season. Allow the cutting to dry in the sun for a day or two then pot up in a very sandy mix. Very easy.

Cultivation of Hottentot Fig:

Sandy and rocky places by the sea. Naturalized on cliffs and banks by the sea in Cornwall and S. Devon.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Carpobrotus edulis:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.