Invasive plants in the Ponziane islands - Heart-leaved iceplant

Invasive plants in the Ponziane islands - Heart-leaved iceplant

3 June 2022

We want to present a few succulent species that share the same family and similar ecological and adaptability features with the Hottentot fig (Carpobrotus)

Due to their current limited distribution and low impact, they are not yet a threat to biodiversity, but are frequently cultivated in private and public gardens and have the potential to become invasive. As a matter of fact, due to their resistance to high temperature and drought, climate change is likely to favour the formation of new wild populations and increase the spread and invasiveness of these species in the next future.

Let's start with Heart-leaved iceplant Mesembryanthemum cordifolium (called also Aptenia)

It is a succulent plant with several long trailing branches and small, heart shaped, glossy green leaves. The plant produces small flowers, bright pink to white, in spring and summer. It easily reproduces vegetatively by rooting of branches and spreads to walls and open ground at or near the coast.

In Italy it is reported as invasive in Tuscany, Calabria, and Sardinia.

The plant is very common in the gardens in Ventotene and Ponza, from which it spreads to ruderal areas around the buildings. It is also cultivated in Palmarola.