AIZOACEAE - Pigface Family

A large family of 2300 species in 140 genera, mainly in semi-arid regions of southern Africa, but with members in Asia, North and South America and Australia. Usually succulent herbs or shrubs. Represented in Western Australia by 42 species, 17 naturalised.

Carpobrotus edulis (pigface, Hottentot fig) is a large, short-lived prostrate perennial to 6m across with triangular succulent leaves up to 14cm long. The large flowers, 8-12cm in diameter, open yellow and age to pink. Naturalised along the coast and in tuart and banksia woodlands from Perth to Albany. A pest of pastures on coastal sandy soils. Native to South Africa. Another species, C. aequilaterus (angular pigface) with smaller, 5-8cm wide, lolly-pink flowers, is found on beaches, in coastal shrublands and on wasteland from Shark Bay to Esperance. Native to South America. The native pigface, C. virescens, that is also found in this area, has pink petals that are white at the base and red young stems. All species flower in spring and have soft, large, sweet, edible red to purplish fruits in summer that are eaten, and the seeds spread, by birds.

Carpobrotus edulis. RR

Lampranthus glaucus (noon flower) a bushy, low-spreading shrub to 30cm tall with small grey-green succulent leaves on the young branches and soft yellow flowers to 3cm wide in late spring. The fruit is a dry capsule. It has invaded granite rocks in the Albany area from garden refuse; also found at Hamelin Bay. Native to southern Africa.

Lampranthus glaucus. GK

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum(common ice plant) is a prostrate annual, with large, glistening, ovate, simple leaves and small white flowers. This is a very widespread weed of saline farmland soils and of granite rocks in arid areas, salt lake margins and offshore islands from Carnarvon to Eucla. M. aitonis(angled ice plant) is a prostrate annual with angular stems. It is locally common around Culham Inlet at Hopetoun.

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum. RR

M. nodiflorum, an erect annual with narrow linear leaves, is found on saline soils on farms, roadsides, in woodlands and other saline areas from Bremer Bay to the Fraser Range. All are from South Africa and flower in spring

Micropterum papulosumis a prostrate, glistening annual, with linear leaves and yellow flowers. A widespread weed of granite rocks in arid areas, salt lake margins and estuaries from Carnarvon to Esperance. Native to South Africa, flowering in spring.

Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum. GK

Tetragonia decumbens(sea spinach) is a prostrate or scrambling soft, semi-succulent perennial, to 5m across, with small, four-lobed yellow flowers with numerous stamens and dry brown winged fruits. Flowers in spring. Found on beaches from Geraldton to Bremer Bay. Native to South Africa.


Tetragonia decumbens. SE


Trianthema portulacastrum(giant pigweed) is a prostrate, somewhat succulent herb with ovate green leaves and small white flowers hidden amongst the leaves. Flowers for most of the year on wasteland throughout the Kimberley and Pilbara. It can be a serious weed in irrigated crops. Native to tropical Africa and Asia.

Trianthema portulacastrum
. RR

Many other species of Aizoaceae are cultivated in Western Australia, and frequently they have become locally naturalised around old settlements, especially near the coast. Members of the family in this category currently include: Apentia cordifolia, a trailing shrub with small ovate leaves and pink flowers - Cape Naturaliste;Dorotheanthus bellidiformis(Livingstone daisy) an erect annual with pink or yellow flowers - Cheyne Beach; Droseranthemum candens(redondo creeper) a prostrate, hairy shrub with club-shaped clustered leaves and white flowers - along the Swan River;

Droseranthemum candens. PH

Lampranthus coccineus (scarlet pigface) similar to L. glaucus but with scarlet flowers - Mawson, and L.multiradiatussimilar to L. glaucus but with purple flowers - Albany area; Psilocaulon tenue (wiry noon flower) an erect or prostrate small perennial shrub, leaves linear and soon withering and white flowers grouped on short side branches - along the Swan River; Ruschia tumidulasimilar to the Lampranthus species but has a many-flowered inflorescence of smaller flowers - granite rocks in Albany and Tetragonia nigrescenssimilar to T. decumbens, but has papery black fruits - Swan River. All are native to southern Africa.

Lampranthus coccineus. PH

Previous page< >< > to Amaranthaceae

< >
Back to home page.

Webmaster: Rod Randall