In the early 1900s C. edulis or Ice Plants was brought to California from South Africa to stabilize soil along railroad tracks and was later put to use by Caltrans for similar purposes. Thousands of acres were planted in California until the 1970s. It easily spreads by seed (hundreds per fruit) and from segmentation (any shoot segment can produce roots). Its succulent foliage, bright magenta or yellow flowers, and resistance to some harsh coastal climatic conditions (salt) have also made it a favoured garden plant. The Ice Plant was for several decades widely promoted as an ornamental plant, and it is still available at some nurseries. Ice Plant foliage can turn a vibrant red to yellow in color.
The Ice Plant is still abundant along highways, beaches, on military bases, and in other public and private landscapes. It spreads beyond landscape plantings and has invaded foredune, dune scrub, coastal bluff scrub, coastal prairie, and most recently maritime chaparral communities. In California, the Ice Plant is found in coastal habitats from north of Eureka, California, south at least as far as Rosarito in Baja California. It is intolerant of frost, and is not found far inland or at elevations greater than approximately 500 feet (150 m).
Photo taken by Canon IXUS