What Is Ice Plant

Delosperma, a succulent perennial ground cover with daisy-like flowers, is known as the hardy ice plant. The reason the ice plant is called an ice plant—rather than because it can withstand freezing temperatures—is because its blossoms and foliage appear to be sparkling with frost or ice crystals. The plants eventually reach heights of 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 cm) and widths of 2 to 4 feet (0.5 to 1 m).

The majority of the summer and fall are when ice plant blooms bloom. They may be grown in USDA plant hardiness zones 5–9. Because the majority of their foliage is evergreen, they make excellent year-round ground covers. Despite being evergreen, the plant frequently experiences some wintertime foliage dieback.

Among the most well-known ice plant variants are:

  • Ice factory Cooper’s (Delosperma cooperi) The most prevalent type is this purple ice plant.
  • robust yellow (Delosperma brunnthaleri)
  • This plant has beautiful yellow flowers.
  • A type of ice plant called Starburst (Delosperma floribundum) has pink blooms with a white center.

What is the benefit of ice plant?

The South African soil is continually scorched by the sun. You must have some tricks under your sleeve if you don’t want to pass out from thirst in this place. When it comes to acquiring water, the ice plant is an expert. It grows well on sandy, clayey, and even saline soils where it can cover up to 0.7 square meters under the hot sun. Its green or occasionally brightly red leaves hold the key to its mystery. They have glistening fluid reservoirs all over them that reflect sunlight like ice crystals or dew drops. They are thick and succulent. But how, in such a dry climate, can it gather so much water? Later, we’ll reveal that to you.

The many, radially arranged white to reddish flowers of the biennial to perennial, frost-sensitive ice plant bloom from July to September. This opulence contrasts with the root’s brief length, which gives the impression that it serves more as a means of holding the plant in place than a source of water. The grey-brown seeds are released from the capsules when it is damp outside, but they must ripen in the warmth of their natural environment.

It is claimed that the ice plant has diuretic properties. Written by Samuel Hahnemann

With little proof to back it up, the freshly squeezed juice of the plant (Mesembryanth. crystall.) has been praised for its diuretic, dilutive properties in treating dropsy and strong urine.

Ascites (an buildup of fluid in the abdomen), diarrhea, liver and kidney problems, and pneumonia can all be treated using ice plant. It soothes itchiness, discomfort, edema, and redness of the skin when applied externally.

Greek words mesembria, which means midday, and anthemon, which means flower, combine to form the generic name Mesembryanthemum. The blooms only open when there is intense sunlight, which is normally at noon, hence the generic name and the German name Mittagsblume (noon plant). The strength of our plant is reflected in the family name Aizoazeae, which derives from the Greek word aizoon, which means to live forever.

However, we made a pledge to explain how the ice plant handles such intense temperatures. It accomplishes this by holding its breath all day. Normally, plants absorb carbon dioxide during the day and use sunlight to transform it into sugar and oxygen. The pores on the underside of the leaves allow the plant to breathe, but they also allow water loss. These so-called stomata are therefore shut throughout the day, and the ice plant only breathes at night. The carbon dioxide it absorbs is linked to a molecule and converted the following morning through photosynthesis into sugar and oxygen.

That is not all, though. The ice plant has a quirk that is at first puzzling: salt accumulation. If a typical plant is exposed to too much salt, it will die. This happens every winter when we discover that the vegetation has been harmed by the salt used to clear the icy roadways. However, in coastal regions, if the soil isn’t salty enough, the ice plant will even absorb salt from the air. What is it used for? The salt encourages the plant to produce fruit acids. These also contribute to a natural moisture-retaining component, together with sugar alcohols, a lot of magnesium, and the amino acid proline. Therefore, these elements in our plant actually draw and bind the meager moisture present in its surroundings. Cut branches that don’t begin to dry up for several weeks are a particularly spectacular example of this. The final layer of heat insulation is provided by the red of the leaves. The so-called betacyanins, pigments that absorb light and so offer organic sun protection, are what give the color.

The ice plant leaves behind salty soils wherever it grows because of its high salt content. The earlier practice of planting ice plants to prevent erosion has now mostly been abandoned because this renders the soil unusable for other plants.

The ice plant’s leaves produce a vegetable that resembles spinach. The sour leaves are chewed in South Africa.

On the Canary Islands, soda (sodium carbonate), which is present in significant levels in the ash, was once produced at an ice plant. This is where one of its German names, soda plant, comes from. In fact, a nurse was the one who first recognized the ice plant’s ability to relieve itchiness, pain, swelling, and skin redness. This amazing plant impressed Waltraud Marschke when she was working at the Lanzarote center for anthroposophical therapy on the Canary Islands. After conducting extensive field tests at the ice plant, Nurse Waltraud published her knowledge in 1988, and it has since gained popularity.

The ice plant’s many leaves appear to have all of the characteristics of the whole plant. Their crimson hue resembles that of a flower; the liquid reserves and moisture-retaining properties make up for the root’s short length, which seems to serve more as a means of securing the plant to the ground than as a source of water. The nerve sense organs of people, including the epidermis, are related to the root of the ice plant. The plant combines the root’s functions with the leaf system’s balancing functions, which are related to the human body’s rhythmic functions. Thus, it serves as a role model for skin that is inflamed and, in a sense, under stress.

The hardy ice plant, which has mastered the ability to bind moisture, is the ideal component for:

How does an ice plant appear?

The term “ice plant” refers to a variety of taxa and species. Lampranthus and Delosperma are among the two most well-known genera. Warm-weather perennials with vividly colorful flowers, these plants. The term “ice plant” refers to the plant’s microscopic hairs, which reflect light in a way that makes them look like ice crystals. The foliage is thick and succulent-like and changes color as the temperatures fall in the fall. Many varieties of ice plants are evergreen when it is warm.

Click Play to See How to Grow and Care for Ice Plants

Depending on the type, ice plants can appear as anything from a spreading ground cover to a bushy subshrub. Typically, they start flowering in the spring and keep doing so all through the growing season. In sunny locations, several species bloom almost the entire summer. In milder areas, growing ice plants by mid-summer is ideal; however, fall planting is favored in hotter climes. The species often have a rapid pace of growth.

What does ice plant mean?

The definition of an ice plant is any of a variety of often succulent herbs (such as those belonging to the genera Carpobrotus, Delosperma, and Mesembryanthemum) that are primarily employed as ground coverings or to prevent erosion.

Is the ice plant toxic?

Typically, poisoning happens from October through April. The plant’s high salt (sodium) content at this time seems to draw sheep, but it also has the plant’s highest level of oxalic acid, a deadly toxin.

Both pasture and stubble can harbor iceplant poisoning, which often manifests 24 hours after sheep are moved to a new paddock.

When the plant is dead, it becomes most toxic (greyish, dry and crumbly). Both when it is dry and after a summer rain, it is still toxic.

The plant thrives in drier climates, and after a dry winter, problems are more prevalent. When more than 25 millimeters of rain fall in the summer after the plant has dried out, sheep deaths seem to be less prevalent, although experiments have shown that oxalate levels do not considerably decrease after heavy rain.

Only sheep have had deaths from iceplant poisoning documented. Horses and goats, for example, are likely to be vulnerable, though. The least vulnerable animals to oxalate toxicity are cattle.

Is it safe to consume ice plants?

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The common ice plant is a halophyte, a salt-tolerant plant that thrives in highly salinized soil or water. It is indigenous to southern Europe, western Asia, south-western Africa, and north Africa. Despite growing naturally, it has been grown as an attractive plant. This plant traveled to several nations in north and south America as well as Australia thanks to the sand used in ship ballasts. This resilient member of the Aizoaceae family has a high tolerance for stress. Salt from the decomposing plant seeps into the earth once the plant dies. The establishment of less salt-tolerant species is prevented by the increased salinity.

Distinguishing Features

This plant is a massive annual with sprawling stems that forms a mat. It features unusual stems and leaves, which are coated in papillae loaded with sap and small membranes that, when viewed from a distance, resemble ice crystals and give the leaf a succulent texture. It is regarded as a hardy succulent herb or thick prostrate shrub that can reach a width of one meter (3 feet).


White flowers with many petals are in bloom. They feature five sepals, numerous short stamens, and the petals become pinkish with age. The ice plant’s 30 to 50 mm-wide blossoms are incredibly small. Succulent flower stems are present. The crystals on the stalks change color according on their placement, from green to red. Typically, they flower from July through September.


The leaves are tear-drop-shaped with wavy margins and are oblong to spathulate (wide at the apex and tapering to the base). The plant typically starts to die from the apex as it ages. Simple, opposing, or alternate leaf arrangements can be seen in sparse or dense clusters. The base leaves have a stem-clasping base and are 6 to 12 cm (up to around 4) long. The stems have 2 to 4 cm-long additional leaves. The leaves are placed alternately on stalks bearing flowers, although they are opposite at the base and on branches without flowers. Typically, leaves are flattened and at least 5 mm wide.


This plant is typically found in salt marshes and maritime sands. It can also be found in disturbed places like cliffs, overgrazed areas, roadside ditches, and coastal erosion zones. The ice plant may thrive in salty conditions and nutrient-deficient soils. It can be found in Oregon, California, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, according to the USDA.

Edible Parts

You can consume the leaves and stems fresh or cooked. Despite having a jelly-like interior, the ice plant leaves are recognized for having a slight crunch, being juicy, and having a salinity similar to that of the ocean. The ice plant gets sweeter once it has reached full ripeness. Ice plant leaves are frequently used to create tempura in Japan. Stems and leaves can be used as a garnish or for pickling. Isoflavones, vitamins A and C, and several B vitamins can all be found in leaves.

What flavor does ice plant have?

Crystals sparkle on the fleshy stalks of the plant that grows on the rocky slopes along Jaffa’s shoreline. The different common names for the plant highlight their similarity to icicles. crystalline ice plant, common ice plant, or just ice plant. As the plant’s natural environment is a small, windswept area close to the Mediterranean, the shimmering “crystals” of Mesembryanthemum crystallinum are actually water vesicles to which sea salt has stuck. They are a natural way for the plant to get rid of excess salt. Season for ice plants is from February to June.

Prof. Amotz Dafni noted in his book “Hadudaim Natnu Reham (University of Haifa Press), a beautiful collection of folklore and medicinal and nutritional benefits for local plants, “Some people grow this plant to utilize its leaves like spinach or as a green in a salad. Due to the habitat of this plant being reduced to make room for new highrises, its flavor has all but disappeared in modern times.

It used to be served in salads and with seafood and fish dishes, but no one knows what it is these days. In several dishes at the Rama’s Kitchen restaurant in Nataf, in the Jerusalem Hills, chef Tomer Niv uses ice plant, which has been rediscovered. A tartare with loquats, green plums, and ice plant stalks; blue crabs with cherry and ice plant gazpacho; salt-baked Jerusalem artichoke with whipped labaneh; and raw grouper sashimi surrounded by a dazzling crown of ice plant leaves are a few examples. Enhancing the flavor of fish and seafood is one of the plant’s primary attributes. It has a crunchy texture and doesn’t overshadow the flavor of the fish or seafood. It also has a fresh, salty, lemony flavor. When eaten by itself, it tastes something like salty water and the crystallization of the salt makes it taste somewhat like oysters.