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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 4 | Aizoaceae | Malephora

1. Malephora crocea (Jacquin) Schwantes, Deutsche Gärt.-Zeitung. 43: 7. 1928.

Crocea iceplant

Malephora crocea

Credit: John R. Hosking

Mesembryanthemum croceum Jacquin, Fragm. Bot., 17. 1800; Crocanthus croceus (Jacquin) L. Bolus; Hymenocyclus croceus (Jacquin) Schwantes; M. instititum Willdenow

Subshrubs. Stems light gray- brown, exterior fissured, barklike, to 2 cm diam., corky, becoming woody with age. Leaves crowded at end of short shoots, pale green, sometimes red tinged; blade triangular in cross section, 2.5-6(-12) × 0.6 cm, apex blunt, glaucous. Inflorescences terminal, flowers solitary; pedicel 1-6 cm. Flowers: calyx 0.8-1.5 cm; calyx lobes (4-)5(-6), 3 longer, with translucent margins, 2 shorter, apex acute; petals 40-65, purplish abaxially, orange adaxially, sometimes completely yellow, orange, or red, 4-12 mm; nectary present; stamens 2-5 mm; filaments connate basally, forming dense ring, white-hairy; ovary inferior. Capsules obcuneiform, 8(-12)-loculed; adaxial seed pockets with bifid placental tubercles. Seeds ca. 75, 3-15 per locule, 1 × 0.8 mm. 2n = 36.

Flowering mostly spring-summer. Margins of coastal wetlands and bluffs; 0-100 m; introduced; Calif.; Mexico (Baja California); Africa.

Malephora crocea is grown as an ornamental and often sold as a ground cover for landscaping. It is cultivated along freeways as far north and inland as Fresno, California.

Two varieties of Malephora crocea have been recognized: var. crocea, with the adaxial surfaces of the petals orange and the abaxial surfaces purplish; and var. purpureocrocea (Haworth) H. Jacobsen & Schwantes, with petals purplish on both surfaces, which is grown for ornamental purposes and is not naturalized in the flora.


Ferren, W. R. Jr., J. E. Bleck, and N. J. Vivrette. 1981. Malephora crocea (Aizoaceae) naturalized in California. Madroño 28: 80-85.


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    John R. Hosking (
    I was looking up information on Malephora crocea and there seems to be an error:

    'calyx lobes (4-)5(-6), 3 longer, with translucent margins, 2 shorter, apex acute'

    from specimens that I collected (naturalised in Australia - the name was suggested by a taxonomist (Hellmut Toelken) who works on Aizoaceae at AD) there always seem to be 2 longer lobes and the shorter lobes are the ones with the translucent margins. Is this correct?

    Malephora seems to have been done by John Bleck but I do not know how to contact him (I could not find contact details in the eFlora version of Flora on North America or in Index Herbariorum).

    I have attached pictures and the label for plants that I collected last weekend. You may wish to pass them on to the relevant person.

    John R. Hosking (
    I am in the process of writing papers on plant species recently recognised as naturalised in New South Wales (the state where I live). The following entry (that obviously needs to be modified once I can see the hard copy of Flora of North America (NSW (the herbarium) receives copies of the Flora but I live in Tamworth so I can only access copies when I am in Sydney) is for Malephora crocea:

    Malephora crocea (Jacq.) Schwantes var. crocea

    Crocea iceplant

    DESCRIPTION: Subshrub to ?? cm high. See Cunningham et al. (1981, as Carpobrotus sp.).

    REGION OF ORIGIN: Native of South Africa (Cape Province).

    NSW DISTRIBUTION / HABITATS: North Western Plains. At Lightning Ridge plants were growing with native herbs and grasses in a disturbed area near habitation. Plants in this area were spreading into less disturbed areas.


    ADDITIONAL RECORDS: Saltbush Corner, below Bevan's Black Opal & Cactus Nursery, Lightning Ridge, J.R. Hosking 2494, 11 Jul 2004 (AD, CANB, MEL, NE, NSW).

    Notes: Spread by seed. At Lighting Ridge there were over 1000 clumps of plants over an area of c. 100 m x 20 m with a few plants scattered outside this area. Also recorded as possibly naturalised in South Australia (Hellmut Toelken, pers. comm. 13 Jul 2004). This species has been collected in the past but was not been identified until 2004. The species is naturalised in California where the species is often grown as a grown cover for landscaping (Bleck in ?? Flora of North America Volume 4).

    The Cunningham et al. (1981) reference is:

    Cunningham, G.M.; Mulham, W.E.; Milthorpe, P.L.; Leigh, J.H. (1981). Plants of Western New South Wales. NSW Government Printer: Sydney.

    I will have to go through specimens at NSW to determine if there are earlier records of Malephora crocea. I assume that the name Carpobrotus sp. is backed by an herbarium record at NSW as all the species pictured in Plants of Western New South Wales that I have looked at appear to be backed by herbarium records.

    I have attached two other images taken at Lightning Ridge as these may also be useful.

    The paper on species recorded as naturalised in New South Wales in 2000 & 2001 has been published:

    Hosking, J.R., Conn, B.J. & Lepschi, B.J. (2003) Plant species first recognised as naturalised for New South Wales in 2000 and 2001. Cunninghamia 8: 175–187.

    That paper covered 40 species. Another paper for 2002 & 2003 is largely completed and covers 72 species.

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