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HOTTENTOT-FIG

Carpobrotus edulis

Dewplant Family [Aizoaceae]

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category
category8UnderShrubs
category
category8Deciduous
status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8yellow
flower
flower8pink flower8mauve
inner
inner8yellow
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZMany
stem
stem8triangular

13th April 2013, Sennen, Lands End, Cornwall. Photo: © Brent Clarkson
Grows up to 3m, mostly horizontally with woody procumbent stems.


13th April 2013, Sennen, Lands End, Cornwall. Photo: © Brent Clarkson
The flowers are yellow at first, but often fade to pink, as here. The variation rubescens has purplish-pink petals, and these specimens may indeed be such.


13th April 2013, Sennen, Lands End, Cornwall. Photo: © Brent Clarkson
The leaves are succulent and triangular in cross-section.


13th April 2013, Sennen, Lands End, Cornwall. Photo: © Brent Clarkson
It has five sepals cupping the base of the flower. Despite having numerous petals like those of Dandelion, the plant does not belong to the Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae], but rather to the Dewplant Family.


13th April 2013, Sennen, Lands End, Cornwall. Photo: © Brent Clarkson
There are between 8 and 20 stigmas in the centre (here they seem to number 10).


13th April 2013, Sennen, Lands End, Cornwall. Photo: © Brent Clarkson
Stigmas are in the centre, darker yellow stamens with yellow pollen surround them.


13th April 2013, Sennen, Lands End, Cornwall. Photo: © Brent Clarkson


13th April 2013, Sennen, Lands End, Cornwall. Photo: © Brent Clarkson
The succulent leaves are arranged in whorls around a stem. Most leaves point skywards.


13th April 2013, Sennen, Lands End, Cornwall. Photo: © Brent Clarkson
The tips of the leaves redden later in the season.


13th April 2013, Sennen, Lands End, Cornwall. Photo: © Brent Clarkson
The leaves are ± equilateral in cross-section (isosceles triangular in Sally-my-handsome [Carpobrotus acinaciformis]).


Carpobrotus edulis var. edulis

June 2014, Sennen, Lands End, Cornwall. Photo: © Brent Clarkson
Any yellow Hottentot-figs are necessarily var. edulis, one of the 3 varieties of Hottentot-fig.


June 2014, Sennen, Lands End, Cornwall. Photo: © Brent Clarkson
The var. edulis may, or may not, fade to a pinkish hue, so might still be confused for the other two varieties.


June 2014, Sennen, Lands End, Cornwall. Photo: © Brent Clarkson
Other than the colour difference there does not appear to be very much difference between the three varieties, save for slight differences in the ovary and receptacle of var. chrysophthalmus.


June 2014, Sennen, Lands End, Cornwall. Photo: © Brent Clarkson
The styles are stared at the top like the other varieties.


Easily mis-identified as : Sally-my-handsome (Carpobrutus acinaciformis) but rather than having leaves with an equilateral cross-section, they have instead an isosceles triangular cross section, thinner on one edge. Also, the leaves of Hottentot-fig are as thick over most of their length whereas in Sally-me-handsome they are thicker towards the end.

There are three varieties of Hottentot-fig:

  • (Carpobrutus edulis var. edulis) with yellow petals often fading to pink
  • (Carpobrutus edulis var. rubescens) with pinkish-purple petals.
  • (Carpobrutus edulis var. chrysophthalmus) with pink petals with yellow bases.

Some similarities to : Annual Sea-fig (Carpobrutus glaucescens) however at 3.5 - 7mm across those flowers are mostly smaller than those of Hottentot-fig at 4.5 - 10cm across; and the leaves shorter at 2-7cm rather than the 5-12cm of Hottentot-fig. The petals of Annual Sea-fig are also pinkish-purple and either white or very-pale pink at the base.

However, the true identity of many of these foreign plants belonging to the Carpobrotus genus in the UK is obscure and requires much investigation.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics : A Hottentot-fig (Carpobrotus), but which one...

Distinguishing Feature :

No relation to : Fig (Ficus carica) [a plant with similar name but belonging to the totally different Mulberry Family [Moraceae]).

All the plants belonging to the Carpobrotus genus are non-native neophytes, introduced and naturalised (but only in very particular sometimes very small areas of the UK). Native to South Africa Hottentot-fig is an aggressive invasive creeping mat-forming succulent plant which in the UK colonizes much of the cliffs and banks of the Cornish coast preferring the serpentinic rocks in the vicinity. It is also found in scattered locations on the Southern coasts of England, Eire, and the Llyn Peninsula. It has the scientific sub-name edulis because the seeds are edible. It is a problem weed in many parts of the world including California, New Zealand, the Mediterranean, France as well as the UK. Bizarrely, it was once planted in Cornwall to stabilise the sand-dunes, for one individual plant plant can grow to 50 metres across.

It contains the following triterpene steroids β-Amyrin, Uvaol and Oleanolic Acid. Also MonoGalactosylDiacylGlycerol, Catechin, epi-Catechin, Ferulic Acid, Rutin, Hyperoside, NeoHesperidin and the colourful compounds Pro-Pelargonidins and ProCyanidin B5 which is an asymmetrical dimer of epi-Catechin.

FLAVANOLS & A CYANIDIN


Catechin and epi-Catechin are both flavanols, in particular flaval-3-ols and are stereoisomers of each other, with just one -OH group differing in position. In addition there exist two more steroisomers of  Catechin depending upon the position of the remote benzene ring, angled up or down from the plane of the fused rings. Catechin was first found in 'Catechu' a liquid extract from the Mimosa catechu (aka Acacia catechu but now re-named as Senegalia catechu) non-native Catechu tree from Asia, India and China.

Both Catechin and epi-Catechin are found in cocoa (and in dark chocolate) and has neuroprotective properties after a stroke, but must be given within 6 hours (in mice, it hasn't been tested in humans). Like many flavanols it is an anti-oxidant.


Procyanidin B5 is an asymmetrical dimer of epi-Catechin and is also found in the seeds of Grape, in the non-native plants Cotoneaster oligantha and Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus).

Generally, ProCyanidins are polyphenols and exist in some other plants, such as Apple, Cocoa and spices, for example Cinnamon. There are numerous ProCyanidins, having two flavonol (usually either Catechin or epi-Catechin) joined at various positions. They are anti-oxidants. Or they may be trimers of various flavonols, or tetrameric. There is even a pentamer.

There are Procyanidins belonging to the 'A' type, such as Procyanidin A1, and ProCyanidin A2, both dimers of epi-Catechin, joined at two places. A2 is found in Horse-Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) and in the juice of Cranberry.

Other Procyanidins belong to the 'B' type, which have only one link between the flavonols, such as Procyanidin B1 (a dimer of Catechin and epi-Catchetin) found in Ceylon Cinnamon (Cinnamonin verum) the roots of Cat's Claw (Uncaria guianensis) and in the leaves of Grape Vine (Vitos vinifera), B2 (a dimer of epi-Catechin and epi-Catchetin) B3 (a dimer of Catechin) found in red wine, beer and Peach, B4 (a dimer of Catchetin and epi-Catechin) found in Grape seeds and beer, B5 (a dimer of epi-Catechin)found in Grape seeds and Kenal, B6 (a dimer of Catechin) found in Grape seds and beer and Procyanidin B8 (a dimer of Catchetin and epi-Catechin) found in Grape seeds and beer.

A UBIQUITOUS POLAR LIPID



MGDG is the most abundant polar lipid in nature. It consists of a glycerol moiety linked to two un-saturated fatty acid side chains. It does not form bilayers, but instead forms a single layer polar lipid plastid membrane present in chloroplast membranes of most plants except those lacking chloroplasts. The layer acts during photosynthesis and a deficiency of it can impair the efficiency of photosynthesis.


  Carpobrotus edulis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Aizoaceae  

Distribution
 family8Dewplant family8Aizoaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Carpobrotus
Carpobrotus
(Hottentot-Figs)

HOTTENTOT-FIG

Carpobrotus edulis

Dewplant Family [Aizoaceae]