Carpobrotus acinaciformis (L.) L. Bolus, C. edulis (L.) N. E. Br. and their hybrids

Family: Aizoaceae
Scientific name: Carpobrotus acinaciformis (L.) L. Bolus, C. edulis (L.) N. E. Br. e loro ibridi
Synonyms: Mesembryanthemum acinaciformis L.; M. edulis L.
Common name: Hottentot fig, Pigface. (common and eatable)
English name: Hottentot fig, Pigface.
Brief description:

Hottentot figs have fleshy creeping stems measuring 0.5-3-4 m with opposite, triangular leaves. The leaves are fleshy due to the presence of mucilage about 5-8 mm in length, wider at the base and narrowing towards the tip. Isolated flowers 5-8 cm in diameter, reddish-purple with yellowish stamina. The fruit are oval fleshy berries about 4-5 cm in length with numerous tiny seeds (flowers are white or yellowish-white in C. edulis).

Biology and ecology: Creeping fleshy chamaephyte, with rooting branches, autumn-spring development.
Country of origin: South Africa.
First record: Cavara, 1901; Molinier, 1955.
Status in Sardinia: An established invasive alien, commonly cultivated as a creeping ornamental plant thanks to the ease with which cuttings take root.
Habitat in Sardinia: Walls, cliffs, beaches, coastlines, roadside embankments and ditches, arid places.
Nature of invasiveness: High seed production (over 5,000 seeds per fruit), very resistant to arid conditions, high rooting capability on the part of the creeping stems, tolerance to trampling.
EPPO category: Invasive alien (since 2006).
Negative impacts: It is one of the two most dangerous and widespread invasive species in Mediterranean rocky and sandy coastal habitats, where it quickly propagates to the detriment of the native flora.
Containment activities: Preventing vegetative propagation and the dispersion of seeds from invaded areas. Manual eradication during the initial phases of invasion.
General notes: The two species (and their hybrids) were introduced a long time ago, undoubtedly earlier than the first record reported by Cavara.

Species factsheet by Giuseppe Brundu & Ignazio Camarda CBV / UNISS
Main references:

• Albert, M. E., D'Antonio, C. M. and Schierenbeck, K. A. 1997. Hybridization and introgression in Carpobrotus spp. (Aizoaceae) in California. I. Morphological evidence. Am. J. Bot. 84: 896-904.

• Camarda, I., 1998.

Considerazioni su alcune specie di antica e recente introduzione in

Sardegna e la loro dinamica diffusione. Biocosme Mésogéen

15(1): 89-108.

• Traveset, A., Brundu, G., Carta, L., Mprezetou, I., Lambdon, P., Manca, M., Médail, F., Moragues, E., Rodríguez-Pérez, J., Siamantziouras, A.-K.D., Suehs, C.M., Troumbis, A.Y., Vilà, M., Hulme, P.E. 2008. Consistent performance of invasive plant species within and among islands of the Mediterranean basin. Biological Invasions 10(6): 847-858. .

• Zedda, L., Cogoni, A., Flore, F. & Brundu, G. 2010. Impacts of Alien Plants and man-made disturbance on soil-growing bryophyte and lichen diversity in coastal areas of Sardinia (Italy). Plant Biosystems 144(4): 547-562.

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