These are fascinating plants that come in some of the brightest most vibrant colors I have ever seen with my own eyes. They are so bright that they glisten, hence the name Ice Plant and can be quite blinding on a clear day. Okay, technically they are given that name because of the crystals that form on the leaves and stems but still…The most common colors I see in my region are purple, orange, yellow and a mix that looks similar to an African Daisy.
They are super hardy in desert (hot) regions and are commonly seen lining the freeways for corrosion/erosion control and very minimal maintenance. If anything, keeping their growth in control is about the only thing this plant needs.
Their stalks/leaves are thick, similar to succulents and thrive in poor conditions which makes them great choices for landscape areas that are closer to the road or not great for growing other crops. At night, they close up and in the morning when the sun comes up again, they open back up and you cannot help but be captivated by how amazingly vibrant these plants really are.
In landscapes, they are great for ground cover because they can easily cover large spaces in a very short period of time. While I have not personally eaten the fruit of an ice plant, it is used to make jams and such in South Africa – Big Bad Book of Botany.
To grow, you can easily cut a piece or pull one up from the ground and split the roots and replant them. They are evergreens and perennials depending on where the are located. They do love heat but don’t tolerate super cold weather very well. In my region, the temperature has gotten as low at 20 F but they still manage to come back every year and they stay in bloom from Spring to Winter… or at least it looks that way because they produce many flowers.
While I love these plants so much, I do not keep them in my gardens because they will crowd out other plants and keeping them contained can be a chore as they will overgrow their boundaries if you let them.
There are many varieties of Ice Plants so I am not 100% sure which ones are used for which purposes medicinally however some of the benefits of the Ice Plant extracts are:
relieve soar throat pain- make a tea with salt and ice plant and gargle.
help heal mouth sores-chew the tips of the leaves
and treatment for TB (tuberculosis)
FYI- they can bleach your cloths as well – info from my husband who used to play in the fields of them.
To extract the fruit, wait until the flower dies back and you can pick the fruit from the stem.
Remember to always check with a health care professional or other herbal specialist before consuming anything you are not sure of or when using other medications.
For Magical uses, the ice plant is known also for its reproduction habits and seeding. They give off many seeds which makes them particularly good at reproducing with that in mind, the Ice Plant can be used in magical works for fertility as well as in tribute to the Sun and Moon.
And because they are resistant to insects, you can use them for protection against pests both figuratively and physically.