Carpobrotus edulis | Hottentot-fig
Third Schedule listed species under Regulations 49 & 50 in the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011. (Note: Regulation 50 not yet enacted). Listed as a schedule 9 species under Articles 15 & 15A of the Wildlife Order (Northern Ireland) 1985 (Article 15A not yet enacted).
First reported in the wild
Invasive species - risk of High Impact
Introduction pathways - 1
Escape from Confinement
Introduction pathways subclass - 1
NAPRA Ireland risk assessed
Yes. This species underwent a Non-native species APplication based Risk Analysis in 2014.
Overall risk of this species to Ireland is categorized as: MAJOR with a MEDIUM level of confidence.
Excerpt from overall conclusion summary: The timely management of this species in Ireland before it has had any appreciable impact on threatened plant taxa prevents a clear understanding of its potential impact in Ireland. That said, there is no doubt that the comparable situation in the south-west of Britain (Lizard Peninsula) has long passed the point at which an eradication programme, even though desirable, is now feasible.View the full risk assessment:
This is a succulent trailing evergreen, perennial that roots at the nodes, leaves are opposite and distinctively 3 angled and triangular in cross section (Booy et al., 2015) Flowers are large (8-10cm in diameter) and can be yellow or pinkish-purple and have numerous petals and stamens, only opening in the afternoon (Booy et al., 2015).
Can form extensive, dense mats that overgrow and outcompete native vegetation (Kelly & Maguire, 2009), as well as decreasing soil pH while increasing nitrogen and organic carbon content which may impact, both on species present and affect restoration of habitats after removal of C. edulis (Delipetrou, 2009; Kelly & Maguire, 2009). Despite establishing at a number of sites a 2011 project by the National Botanic Gardens achieved a 97% kill rate of the plant and native vegetation is being restored to the sites (O'Rourke & Lysaght, 2014).
Coastal; Inland unvegetated or sparsely vegetated habitats; Woodland, forest and other wooded land; Regularly or recently cultivated agricultural, horticultural or domestic habitat; Constructed, industrial or other artificial habitats
C. edulis is completely self fertile and slightly agamospermic (seeds are produced from unfertilised ovules) (Sueh et al., 2004). While seeds generally remain within 10m of the parent plant they are dispersed by a wide variety of consumers and viable seeds have been recorded up to 1km away from parent plants in deer faeces in the United States (D'Antonio, 1990). Ungerminated seeds remain viable for at least two years (D'Antonio, 1990). For a detailed account of reproduction in Carpobrotus spp. see (Suehset al., 2004a) & (Suehs et al., 2004b).
Pathway and vector description
Initially introduced as an ornamental garden plant and for use in dune stabilisation (Kelly and Maguire, 2009). Common garden plant so there is potential for numerous secondary introductions though this may be unlikely due to the increasing awareness of the dangers of this and other invasive species.
Mechanism of impact
Largely confined to coastal cliffs it has the potential to invade disturbed ground (Reynolds, 2002), it is also cultivated as a garden plant in Ireland but occurs in a wide variety of habitats elsewhere in its invasive range (Delipetrou, 2009).
Established - Localised. The species has a relatively restricted and localised distribution along the east, and south coastline; often abundant on coastal cliffs, rocks and sand, where it competes with native vegetation (Kelly & Maguire, 2009; Reynolds, 2002).
Native to the Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa but introduced widely elsewhere including North America, New Zealand, Australia and most of Mediterranean Europe (Delipetrou, 2009).
Date of first record category
Fifty year date category
Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023
The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.
How can you help
Report any sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Dispose of garden waste responsibly.
The Delivering Alien Invasive Species In Europe (DAISIE) project list the Hottentot fig as one of the 100 Worst Invaders in Europe.
D'Antonio, C. M. (1990). Seed production and dispersal in the non-native, invasive succulent Carpobrotus edulis (Aizoaceae) in coastal strand communities of central California. Journal of Applied Ecology, 693-702.
Delipetrou, P. (2009). Carpobrotus edulis (L.) N.E.Br., freeway iceplant (Aizoaceae, Magnoliophyta). In: Handbook of Alien Species in Europe DAISIE, Drake, J.A. (ed) . Springer Series in Invasion Ecology, Springer.
Kelly, J. & Maguire, C.M. (2009). Hottentot Fig (Carpobrotus edulis) Invasive Species Action Plan. Prepared for NIEA and NPWS as part of Invasive Species Ireland.
O'Rourke, E. & Lysaght, L. (2014). Risk Assessment of Carpobrotus edulis Hottentot Fig. Prepared for NBDC and Inland Fisheries Ireland.
Reynolds, S.C.P. (2002) A catalogue of alien plants in Ireland. National Botanic Gardens. Glasnevin, Dublin.
Suehs, C. M., Affre, L., & Médail, F. (2004). Invasion dynamics of two alien Carpobrotus (Aizoaceae) taxa on a Mediterranean island: I. Genetic diversity and introgression. Heredity, 92(1), 31-40.
Suehs, C. M., Affre, L., & Médail, F. (2004). Invasion dynamics of two alien Carpobrotus (Aizoaceae) taxa on a Mediterranean island: II. Reproductive strategies. Heredity, 92(6), 550-556.
Hottentot Fig (Carpobrotus edulis) Invasive Species Action Plan
Global Invasive Species Database Information sheet