For a while I was confused, thinking it might be a fruit we called turksvy (Afrikaans name for prickly pear), especially as both plants are cacti and bear fruit.
We used to pick turksvy in the wild when I was growing up. It was delicious, but not my favourite because you had to navigate a big, thorn-laden tree to pick the fruit and to peel it carefully and thoroughly before eating it. There are easier ways to find food:)
As it turned out, they were two completely different plants. The ice plant is a creeping, mat-forming plant that brings out yellow, light pink or deep magenta flowers and is used by many as ground cover. Its leaves are edible and you can cook them like spinach.
Opinion is divided as to whether the fruit can pass the taste test, with some people saying it has a strong, astringent, salty, sour taste (This woman initially disliked it, adding slimy to the epitephs) but she changed her mind. I also found people who eat it dry or as a jam.
The problem with that space is weed grows so fast I can't keep up, affecting our curb appeal. The municipality sends people, but the weeds grow back faster than they can make another round, so I end up investing resources to tidy it up.
The ice plant is an attractive option as ground cover because it's easy to grow, tolerates poor soil, heavy drought and salt in the soil (for those near the sea). It's also heat and fire resistant and apparently, deer don't like it, though its flowers attract butterflies. So I can propagate and then ignore it.
The planting process: Press the seeds into the soil at six inch intervals, then water the bed. They will germinate between 21-28 days.
Plant care: Once the seeds have germinated, you don't really have to do anything except make sure it only creeps in the allocated space.
Harvesting: After you pick the fruit, peel it first before eating it. Some people recommend that you dry it, while others say it's delicious if the dried fruit is soaked in water overnight before eating or making jam with it.
|dried fruit available from teddy's|