Monday, January 3, 2022

Why is this called "Ice Plant"?


Ice Plant
Delosperma cooperi aka Ice Plant

Q. Why is this called "Ice Plant"?

A. Delosperma cooperi is commonly known as Hardy Ice Plant. It's cold hardy into USDA Climate Zone 5. But its cold-hardiness is not the reason for the reference to ice. If you look closely at the slender foliage in the photograph above, you'll notice the glistening white surfaces. Upon examining with a magnifying lens, you'd see structures called epidermal bladder cells. These are what give Delosperma that ice-like glaze. 

Incidentally, Hardy Ice Plant is also known as Mesembryanthemum cooperi. Mesembryanthemum is a genus that grows well in dry, salty, sandy environments. It thrives in South Africa, the Mediterranean region, parts of North and South America. Travelers along the Pacific Coast Highway 1 will see it often.

Ice Plant doesn't have to grow in sandy soil, but gardeners who have it, or who live in dry coastal areas will appreciate its abilities. It's an amazing little plant. To deal with heat, Ice Plant closes little pores (stomata) under its leaves to retain moisture. If it isn't getting enough salt, it takes up airborne saline through its foliage to retain moisture. 

Mesembryanthemum leaves, flowers and seeds are edible. On top of that, the plant has medicinal qualities. It has been used to treat various ailments including liver, kidney and pneumonia. It is also used externally for skin treatment.

Hardy Ice Plant serves well as a ground cover in rock gardens, coastal and container gardens, succulent and cactus gardens, medicinal gardens, and xeriscapes. You should find a place for it in your garden.

Return to

No comments: