Angular Pigface

Carpobrotus glaucescens

Carpobrotus glaucescens is also known as Pigface or Angular Pigface and familiar to every beach visitor in South East Queensland. It is a member of the family Aizoaceae. There are about 30 species in the genus, the majority being native to South Africa. There are six species native to Australia which are mostly coastal in distribution with the exception of C. modestus – an inland species.

A hardy native ground-cover found growing naturally in coastal areas on sand dunes along the NSW and Queensland coast, north to Rockhampton, Pigface also grows down into the east coast areas of Victoria. Pigface is an important part of the ecosystem on the ocean side of sand dunes as it acts as a stabilizer and helps to bind the sand, which allows more effective sand stabilizers such as spinifex grass to take a hold. As a “pioneer” species it is important in paving the way for more complex communities. It also attracts bees and other insects.

Pigface is able to withstand salt spray, strong winds and sand blasts. If covered with sand the plant can survive, grow upwards and produce a new plant mat over the old one.  It is generally a summer-spring growing plant. The plant has long trailing stems that can reach up to 2 metres and can be grown either from seed or cuttings.

Pigface produces large, striking, deep pink-purple daisy-like flowers from October to January, but also can flower sporadically throughout the year. The plant produces a red-purple berry fruit, which was used by Aboriginal people as a food and water source. The flesh of the fruit is likened to salty apples or described as `somewhere between a kiwifruit and a strawberry and maybe a fig, with a good whack of salt’. The roasted leaves have been used as a salt substitute and can be pickled or made into jam. Early European explorers used the plant as an anti-scurvy treatment. The juice of the leaves can also be used to relieve pain from insect bites.

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