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19th January

Lots of non-native plants are grown in the South West, because they are attractive and grow well. But some grow too well, escape from gardens and smother our beautiful native species that support such a diversity of wild-life. We all know about Japanese Knotweed, but how many of us know or care about the danger from the innocently named Hottentot Fig? This is a creeping succulent with green fleshy leaves and magenta or yellow flowers with yellow centres, Latin name carpabrotus edulis. It is freely bought and sold and is growing in many Sennen gardens. It is also taking over the cliffs at Cape Cornwall, firmly established in the harbour at Porthgwarra and threatens to flood over the walls of the holiday cottage complex at the end of Maria's Lane in Sennen, on its way to invading Land's End. This plant loves our warm, moist salt-laden air. It smothers all native plants and supports no animal life. The flowers look attractive for a short time, but for most of the year where it grows there is only a sinister plastic-looking carpet, spreading like a green version of the Martian weed in H.G.Wells's War of the Worlds. Google it and see how local authorities are struggling to contain it in places like Guernsey. It's time we woke up in Cornwall. Right now, we are helping the Hottentot Fig on its way. We should be removing it from our gardens and pressing local authorities and the National Trust to eradicate it in the wild. Before it's too late




Oliver 21 Jan The Wikipedia article was very helpful. I didn't realise that this 
plant is a food resource for rats, who then spread the seeds through 
their faeces: two invasive species supporting each other.
Peter 20 Jan

Being unaware of the non native origins of this plant I planted it over 90 metres of new Cornish Hedging at the front of my house last summer.

It grew beautifully. The recent cold snap (down to minus 9 here in Grumbla) has killed it completely!


Any ideas what to plant it with now that’s native, non toxic and attractive?

Hugh 20 Jan. Gosh. I never realised Hottentot Fig was so invasive. The picture on 
Wikipedia of Bagaud Island is quite telling.... (


20 Jan.

I don't know if the "Hottentot Fig" (I was taught that it was called
Mesembryanthemum) has increased of late at Cape Cornwall, but I can say
with confidence that it was well established and extensive there in 1955
or thereabouts. So that is more than 50 years. I tend to regard it as
native in the many places where it grows: it has been around for long
enough. If removed, what is going to stabilise the soil in those places?

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