ABSTRACT: Ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis) is a succulent native to South Africa; it has become an invasive species and a threat to native vegetation. It abounds on the slopes of Carmel Beach, west of the Carmel Beach Bluff Pathway. Photos of Iceplant are shown. Information about Iceplant with links is presented. A COMMENT is made with regard to Ice Plant and other native species which can be planted for stabilization of the Carmel Beach slopes. REFERENCES including relevant sections dealing with non-native invasive vegetation from the General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan Coastal Resource Management Element and a link to native groundcovers is provided.
Ice Plant along Slope of Carmel Beach, west of Carmel Beach Bluff Pathway
More Ice Plant along Carmel Beach Slope, west of Carmel Beach Bluff Pathway
Close-Up of Ice Plant, west of Carmel Beach Bluff Pathway, on a Slope of Carmel Beach
The California Exotic Pest Plant Council
List A-1: Most Invasive Wildland Pest Plants; Widespread
Latin Name: Carpobrotus edulis
Common Name: iceplant, sea fig
Habitats of Concern and Other Comments: Many coastal communities, esp. dunes
Distribution: SCo,CCo,NCo,SnFrB (CCo=Central Coast)
Ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis) is a succulent native to South Africa, but common in chaparral habitats around the world. Though it was once grown in California, Australia, the Mediterranean, and similar areas as a decorative plant, it has become an invasive species and a threat to native vegetation. Ice plant is hardy and quick to reproduce, easily growing into a thick ground cover that chokes out other plant life and depletes soil nutrients. The only reliable way to control ice plant is to uproot it physically.
Ice plant is attractive, with fleshy green leaves covered with small fibers, causing them to sparkle like ice in the sun. It also features bright yellow, pink, or white flowers and edible fruit that is made into jam in South Africa. The leaves sometimes turn red or yellow. Ice plant was first introduced to California in the early 20th century, when it was used to stabilize soil along railroad tracks. It also became a popular garden plant, and some continue to grow it for decorative purposes today.
Despite the beauty of ice plant, it has become an ecological nuisance in California and other areas in which it is not native. Ice plant has proliferated along California highways to the detriment of many native species. Ice plant dominates the areas where it grows, resulting in very low biodiversity and depriving other species of the resources they need to grow, such as soil and space. Ice plants reproduce both through fruit, which is produced year round, and through segmentation, meaning that any shoot can put down roots. A single shoot of ice plant can grow three feet (about one meter) in a year.
Ice Plant, Sea Fig
What makes it a "BAD" plant?
It excludes native dune mat vegetation.
It displaces three (CNPS List 1B) sensitive plant species: beach layia (Layia carnosa) [also federally listed as endangered], Wolf's evening primrose (Oenothera wolfii) and pink sand verbena (Abronia umbellata ssp. brevifolia).
It stabilizes sand, preventing its natural movement which most native dune species need to survive.
Iceplant/sea fig has the capability of growing over entire beaches.
America's Least Wanted
When a plant or animal is introduced to a non-native area—where its presence is not "natural"— the effects are often devastating to the ecosystem. The balance is upset, and without its natural predators the non-native species may "out-compete" the native species. The native plants and animals, business, agriculture, and recreational activities may be negatively impacted.
• While Ice Plant is known to stabilize sand and slopes, Ice Plant is a threat to native species as it out-competes native species. Consequently, an advantageous goal of the City would be to develop and implement a plan over time to eradicate Ice Plant growing and spreading on the slopes of Carmel Beach; there are other native plant species which can be planted for the purpose of stabilization of the Carmel Beach slopes. (see REFERENCES Some of the California native plants that can be used as less than a foot high groundcover.)
General Plan/Coastal Land Use Plan Coastal Resource Management Element
Selected relevant excerpts, as follows:
Tidestrom’s lupine can be found in and near the dune scrub habitat in the north dunes at Carmel Beach… The species is seriously threatened by coastal development, trampling, and competition from invasive, non-native plants…While the local population appears viable the habitat conditions for Tidestrom’s lupine is degraded from public use and the spread of invasive non-native species
Frequent human use of the area and encroachment of non-native species such as ice plant reduce the area’s value for legless lizard.
Avoid planting and control the spread of invasive, non-native plants.
P5-29 Prohibit planting and control the spread of invasive non-native plants. (LUP)
P5-159 Remove any non-native, invasive vegetation from sensitive habitats. (LUP)
P5-175 Remove any non-native invasive vegetation from special status habitat to eliminate competition and implement a dune restoration plan. (LUP)
P5-177 Minimize spread of non-native plants. (LUP)
Some of the California native plants that can be used as less than a foot high groundcover.