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Crystalline Ice Plant Mesembryanthemum crystallinum


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Crystalline Ice Plant - flower
credit: Simon Forsyth/CCSA

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Alternate name: Common Ice Plant

Family: Aizoaceae, Ice Plant view all from this family

Description A non-native, succulent with sub-divided, reclined stems; which are covered with very small, shiny bead-like structures and white or reddish flowers in the axils of the upper leaves.
Flowers: width 1" (2.5 cm); numerous long, narrow petals with each from 1/4-3/8" (6-9 mm) and many stamens.
Leaves: wavy and ovate with length 3/4-4" (2-10 cm).
Height: creeper; flowering branches up to 3" (7.5 cm) and reclining stems from 8-24" (20-60 cm) long.

Flower March to October.

Habitat Inland desert areas and open, coastal, sandy flats and slopes.

Range Originally introduced along southern California coast and southwestern Arizona.

Discussion This plant was introduced to North America from South Africa where many Mesembryanthemum species reside. It is also found in southern Europe. Considered an invasive exotic pest plant in California, it colonzies coastal habitat at the expense of native plants and releases large amounts of salt into the soil, thereby making the soil toxic to most other plants. The genus name means "blooming at midday" and the species name refers to the shiny, crystalline look of the bead-like structures. These structures on the plant's divided, reclining stems are actually swollen with water. When these structures exude their contents they give the plant a moist feel when touched.