Hottentots Fig, Cape Fig, Sour Fig Carpobrotus edulis
(Hottentotsvy, Kaapsevy, Suurvy)
Order: Caryophyllales. Family: Aizoaceae (Mesembryanthemaceae)
This species of Carpobrotus
forms a sprawling succulent groundcover with trailing stems to 2 m long. A robust, flat-growing, perennial, rooting at nodes and forming dense mats. The succulent horizontal stems curve upwards at the growing point. The leaves are succulent, crowded along the stem, 60-130 x 10-12 mm, sharply 3-angled and triangular in cross-section, yellowish to grass-green, and reddish when older.
Flowers are solitary, 100-150 mm in diameter, yellow, fading to pale pink, produced mainly during late winter-spring (August-October). They open in the morning in bright sunlight, and close at night. Look into the centre of the flower and you'll see many stamens surrounding a beautiful starfish-like stigma. This species is easily distinguished from the others as it is the only one with yellow flowers.
Fruit is fleshy, indehiscent and edible, 35 mm in diameter, shaped like a spinning top, on a winged stalk, becoming yellow and fragrant when ripe. The outer wall of the fruit becomes yellowish, wrinkled and leathery with age. The seeds are embedded in the sticky, sweet, jelly-like mucilage. The fruits can be eaten fresh and they have a strong, astringent, salty, sour taste. They are not as tasty as those of C. acinaciformis and C. deliciosus which are sweeter.C. edulis
is divided into the two subspecies: C. edulis subsp. edulis and C. edulis subsp. parviflorus which has smaller flowers, only reaching 50 mm in diameter, and occurs in the Du Toitskloof Mountains.Distribution
From Namaqualand in the Northern Cape through the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape.Habitat Carpobrotus edulis
grows on coastal and inland slopes. It is often seen as a pioneer in disturbed sites.