AIZOACEAE – Aptenia – Aptenia cordifolia


Ice – plant family

Carpet – weed family

Aizoaceae includes approximately 125 genera of succulent berbs and subshrubs, which are widely distributed in subtropical areas with winter rainfall, with greatest diversity in southwestern Africa. Some are adapted for survival in extremely arid regions where they receive moisture only in the form of ocean mist. Enthusiasts still refer to them as “mesembs” from the old family name Mesembryathemaceae. Leaves are simple, fleshy, and unarmed. Some have extraordinary adaptations for storing water and resisting evaporation. Flowers have a usually 4 or 5 parted perianth. The showier, primarily African species, have numerous, often vibrantly volored petal – like stamens. The species range from very small individuals to matlike colonies. Some are fire resistant. They are commonly planted in California to control slope and beach erosion. it has been discovered, however that fleshy leafed species, heavy with stored water, may themselves cause slides on steep slopes. These are xeric species and are very drought tolerant. Occasional supplemental moisture is recommended in extreme hot, dry conditions primarily for appearance. many are very salt tolerant. Plants were photographed in southern California and New Mexico.


 Aptenia includes 2 species of creeping, succulent mat-forming herbs or subshrubs from South Africa. Leaves are small and fleshy, the stems trailing to mounding. Flowers are solitary or in groups of 2 or 3 . These species are suitable for hanging baskets and ground covers. They are very attractive cascading over walls and terraces. Aptenias thrive in Mediterranean-type, coastal and dry climates, and are drought tolerant, Water in very hot, plant in sandy,  open soil and full sun, Cuttings can be propagated directly  in the ground. Aptenias have become weedy in some areas such as in California, the Andes,  and the Florida Keys.

Aptenia cordifolia

Baby sun-rose, rosa sel sol

Synonym: Mesembryanthemum cordifolium. Southern Africa, widely naturalized. Succulent creeper, zones 9-11. Blooms spring, summer. Moderate moisture when hot, dry when cool. Average, gritty, well – drained soil. Full sun. Flowers: rotate, to 0.5 in. wide, magenta to scarlet, center white to yellow. leaves: fleshy, heart – shaped, 0.5 in.long, covered with felty, papillose hairs. Called sunroses because the flowers open only when the sun shines. May  become a pest in favorable conditions. A variegated form has white leaf margins.


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