Unique Tasty Veggie Called the Common Ice Plant

Dan Nursery crops, Specialty Crops, This Land of Ours

A unique and tasty veggie called the Common Ice Plant.  That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, entire plant. Photographed in the wild in the La Geria region of Lanzarote.
By Yummifruitbat – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

Common ice plant is one of those veggies that chefs love because it makes a unique addition to the restaurant menu. But it may be completely unknown to the average gardener. The leaves and stems have a fresh, salty flavor that brings to mind the ocean. You can also make a soap substitute from the leaves.

Native to South and West Africa, ice plant was accidentally spread worldwide in ship ballast tanks in the 18th century. Sailors filled the tanks with sand, and pieces of the plant would hitch a ride. Now, it has naturalized in many areas.

It’s also known salty ice plant and crystalline ice plant. The ‘salt ice plant’ gets its name from specialized, translucent cells that form on the outside of the plant.

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Because it can take over a garden, consider growing common ice plants in large containers in a greenhouse or outside where they get full sun. Container growing helps keep ice plant under control.

Seeds are available online. You can rarely find seedlings available at nurseries.

Listen to Cathy Isom’s This Land of Ours program here.

Unique Tasty Veggie Called the Common Ice Plant