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Useful Temperate Plants

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum

L.

Aizoaceae

+ Synonyms

Cryophytum crystallinum (L.) N.E.Br.

Gasoul crystallinum (L.) Rothm.

Common Name: Ice Plant

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum
Flowering plant in native habitat
Photograph by: Fagg, M.
Image credit to Australian National Botanic Gardens
Mesembryanthemum crystallinum Mesembryanthemum crystallinum Mesembryanthemum crystallinum Mesembryanthemum crystallinum Mesembryanthemum crystallinum

General Information

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum is a prostrate, annual to perennial plant, though it most commonly completes its life-cycle within a few months. It has succulent leaves and stems, growing about 10cm tall with stems 50cm or more long trailing along the ground[
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
].
The plant is sometimes harvested for local use as a food, medicine and source of soap. It can be used in soil-desalinization projects and is a very ornamental plant that is often grown in the flower garden and is sometimes also cultivated for its edible leaves[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
264
Title
Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Rix. M.
Publisher
Macmillan Reference Books, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0 333 62640 0
Description
Excellent and easily read book with good information and an excellent collection of photos of vegetables from around the world, including many unusual species.
].
Mesembryanthemum crystallinum has spread from its original native habitats near the coasts of western Asia, northern and southern Afrca, both through cultivation as an ornamental, and as a weed (with seed being carried in ships' ballasts). It has become established in several other regions of the world, including California, southern Europe and Australia. It is able to out-compete native species by its habit of concentrating salt in its leaves and then secreting this onto the ground, making surface conditions too saline for native plants to germinate[
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

50
Title
Flora Europaea
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1964
ISBN
-
Description
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for Europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

Africa - Azores, St. Helena, Morocco to Libya, Angola, Namibia, S. Africa; W. Asia - Israel, Egypt (Sinai)

Habitat

Maritime sands and salt marshes[
50
Title
Flora Europaea
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1964
ISBN
-
Description
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for Europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
]. Coastal bluffs, cliffs, ballast dumps, disturbed ground; at elevations up to 100 metres[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitPerennial
Height0.10 m
PollinatorsInsects
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum is not very hardy in the temperate zone and will be killed even by a light frost[
264
Title
Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Rix. M.
Publisher
Macmillan Reference Books, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0 333 62640 0
Description
Excellent and easily read book with good information and an excellent collection of photos of vegetables from around the world, including many unusual species.
]. It is, therefore, usually grown as a half-hardy annual, being sown in a greenhouse in the spring and used for summer bedding[
52
Title
Salads all the Year Round.
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom. J.
Publisher
Hamlyn
Year
1980
ISBN
 
Description
A good and comprehensive guide to temperate salad plants, with full organic details of cultivation.
].
Easily grown in an ordinary well-drained garden soil[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
52
Title
Salads all the Year Round.
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom. J.
Publisher
Hamlyn
Year
1980
ISBN
 
Description
A good and comprehensive guide to temperate salad plants, with full organic details of cultivation.
]. Succeeds in any well-drained low-fertility soil, including saline soils, so long as it is in a sunny position[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
].
A very ornamental plant, it is occasionally also cultivated for its edible leaves[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
264
Title
Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Rix. M.
Publisher
Macmillan Reference Books, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0 333 62640 0
Description
Excellent and easily read book with good information and an excellent collection of photos of vegetables from around the world, including many unusual species.
,
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].
This species uses the 'Crassulacean Acid Metabolism' (CAM) pathway to photosynthesis, a mechanism which aids in conserving moisture. The plant keeps its stomata closed during the day, opening them during the night when it takes in carbon dioxide and stores it in compounds such as malic acid. It then utilizes this carbon dioxide when photosynthesizing during the day. This type of mechanism is used by a range of mainly succulent plants, including cacti and Euphorbia species.
In climates with mild winters, the plant can flower all year round[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].
Plants have few problems with pests or diseases though the young plants are prone to root rot and damping off unless given plenty of ventilation and dry growing conditions[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Edible Uses

Leaves and stems - raw or cooked[
27
Title
The Vegetable Garden.
Publication
 
Author
Vilmorin. A.
Publisher
Ten Speed Press
Year
 
ISBN
0-89815-041-8
Description
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
,
52
Title
Salads all the Year Round.
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom. J.
Publisher
Hamlyn
Year
1980
ISBN
 
Description
A good and comprehensive guide to temperate salad plants, with full organic details of cultivation.
,
84
Title
A Field Guide to the Common and Interesting Plants of Baja California.
Publication
 
Author
Coyle. J. and Roberts. N. C.
Publisher
Natural History Publishing Co.
Year
1975
ISBN
-
Description
A very readable pocket flora with good illustrations, it gives quite a few plant uses.
,
95
Title
Edible and Useful Wild Plants of the United States and Canada.
Publication
 
Author
Saunders. C. F.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1976
ISBN
0-486-23310-3
Description
Useful wild plants of America. A pocket guide.
,
264
Title
Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Rix. M.
Publisher
Macmillan Reference Books, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0 333 62640 0
Description
Excellent and easily read book with good information and an excellent collection of photos of vegetables from around the world, including many unusual species.
]. They can be used as a spinach substitute[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
]. The leaves have an acid flavour, they are thick and very succulent with a slightly salty tang[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. They can also be pickled like cucumbers or used as a garnish[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
].
The whole plant is consumed as a cereal[
1276
Title
Antiviral activity of some Tunisian medicinal plants against Herpes simplex virus type 1
Publication
Natural Product Research, 22:1, 53 - 65, 2008
Author
Sassi, A. Ben, Harzallah-Skhiri, F., Bourgougnon, N. and Aou
Website
http:// http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14786410701589790
Publisher
 
Year
2008
ISBN
 
Description
 
]. A rather strange report - the plant is very succulent. Perhaps it is referring more to either the fruit or the small seed[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Fruit[
84
Title
A Field Guide to the Common and Interesting Plants of Baja California.
Publication
 
Author
Coyle. J. and Roberts. N. C.
Publisher
Natural History Publishing Co.
Year
1975
ISBN
-
Description
A very readable pocket flora with good illustrations, it gives quite a few plant uses.
,
106
Title
The Dictionary of Useful Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Coon. N.
Publisher
Rodale Press
Year
1975
ISBN
0-87857-090-x
Description
Interesting reading but short on detail.
]. No more details are given.

Seed - a famine food used when all else fails[
177
Title
Plants for Human Consumption.
Publication
 
Author
Kunkel. G.
Publisher
Koeltz Scientific Books
Year
1984
ISBN
3874292169
Description
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of Latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
].

Medicinal

The plant is demulcent and diuretic[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
]. It is used in the treatment of inflammations of the pulmonary and genito-urinary mucous membranes[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
]. Gauchos in Argentina used it to treat venereal disease[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].

The leaves are used in the treatment of ascites, dysentery and diseases of the liver and kidney[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
]. The leaves were formerly used as a treatment for scurvy for sailors on long voyages[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].

The fresh juice has been used to treat water retention and to painful urination and to soothe lung inflammation[].

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant was formerly suggested as a possible soil stabilizer, but has been found to be ineffective[
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
].
Due to its ability to accumulate salt, this species has been used for the desalination of soil and it has been suggested that it could be used in bioremediation projects[
1093
Title
Invasive Species Compendium
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.cabi.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An immense resource - in depth information on over 900 species of invasive plants (it also has information on animals, fungi etc).
].

Other Uses

The crushed foliage is used as a soap substitute[
84
Title
A Field Guide to the Common and Interesting Plants of Baja California.
Publication
 
Author
Coyle. J. and Roberts. N. C.
Publisher
Natural History Publishing Co.
Year
1975
ISBN
-
Description
A very readable pocket flora with good illustrations, it gives quite a few plant uses.
].

The sap of the plant, and an extract of the plant are used as ingredients in commercial cosmetic products as humectants and skin conditioners[
1243
Title
CosIng
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/cosing/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
CosIng is the European Commission database for information on cosmetic substances and ingredients.
].

Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse, only just covering the seed. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Seedlings are prone to damp off so should not be over watered and should be kept in a very sunny well-ventilated position[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2018-08-16. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Mesembryanthemum+crystallinum>

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