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common ice plant, crystalline ice plant

Habit Plants annual to biennial.

trailing, dichotomously branched, to 1 m. Leaves sessile or petiolate;

petiole, ± clasping;

blade ovate to spatulate, flat, 2–20 cm, margins undulate.


terminal or axillary, cymes;

proximal bracts opposite, leaflike;

distal bracts alternate, reduced; flowering profusely.


7–10 mm diam.;

hypanthium aging red, round;

calyx lobes 5, unequal;

petals 20–40, connate into tube, white, aging pink;

stamens 30.


coarsely papillate.


200, rough with minute tubercles.


= 18.

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum

Phenology Flowering year-round, mostly spring–fall.
Habitat Coastal bluffs, cliffs, ballast dumps, disturbed ground
Elevation 0-100 m (0-300 ft)
from FNA
AZ; CA; PA; South America; Mexico (Baja California); Europe (Mediterranean); Africa; Atlantic Islands; Australia [Introduced in North America]
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Introduced from southern and western Africa, Mesembryanthemum crystallinum is in cultivation as an ornamental. Its use to treat scurvy by sailors, its popularity as an ornamental potted plant aboard ships, and its occurrence in ballast dumps (as in Pennsylvania) were some of the means by which this species has become so widespread throughout the world. Gauchos in Argentina used it to treat venereal disease.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 4, p. 85.
Parent taxa Aizoaceae > Mesembryanthemum
Sibling taxa
M. nodiflorum
Synonyms Cryophytum crystallinum, Gasoul crystallinum
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 1: 480. (1753)
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