Delosperma cooperi (Trailing Iceplant)
Plant image

Great groundcover to get the job done quickly. Forms a dense carpet that flowers spectacularly in summer with a multitude of pink flowers. Delosperma cooperi is the most commonly commercially available species and grows naturally at higher altitudes in central southern Africa. It thrives in sun and shade.

Name & classification

Botanical name:
Delosperma cooperi

Common names:
Trailing Iceplant, Pink Carpet (English); Vygie (Afrikaans)

Synonyms:
Mesembryanthemum cooperi

Plant family:
Mesembryanthemaceae

Plant categories:
Non-herbaceous Perennials; Groundcovers


Name derivation & history:
The name of the genus is derived from the Greek words 'delos' meaning visible, and 'sperma' meaning seed, alluding to the capsules which have no covering membranes, thus exposing the seed once the capsules are open.

It is said that the common name 'ice plant' is due to the bladder-like hairs on the leaf surface that reflect and refract light in a manner to make it appear that they sparkle like ice crystals. However, many other species of succulent are also referred to as ice plants and have smooth and hairless leaves.

Pictures

Features

Leaf habit:
Evergreen

Height:
10-15cm

Plant shape:
Delosperma cooperi forms a dense, trailing, lush grey/green groundcover that that spreads far and fast.

Leaf description:
The grey/green succulent leaves are sessile and cylindrical. The surfaces are covered with bladder cells.

Flower description:
3-5cm daisy-like flowers have yellow centres and bright pink petals throughout the summer season. Flowers open at midday and close again in the late afternoon, but on overcast days they tend to remain closed.

The flowers are the most brilliant aspect of this plant, with the production of a great quantity of pink flowers that will often cover the entire site, hence the popular name "pink carpet"

Flower colour:
Bright pink

Flowering months:
October to January depending on rainfall

Habitat

Natural distribution:
Grows naturally at higher altitudes in central southern Africa.

Water requirements:
Little water required, but does best with plenty of summer water

Frost tolerance:
Hardy

Light conditions:
Sun; semi-shade; shade

Other Characteristics

Drought resistant
Has non-aggressive roots
Suitable for growing in containers
Low maintenance

Edibility & Toxicity

We have no confirmation that any part of this plant is edible
We have no confirmation that any part of this plant is toxic, however we urge caution as this information may be incorrect.

Ecology

Interaction with physical surroundings:
Grey louries find the leaves of Delosperma cooperi very tasty and feast on them in winter when little else is available. The plants do recover.
Attracts birds
Attracts insects

Other information

Cultivation:
Delosperma is a genus with huge garden potential as the perennial plants require very little maintenance. Plants can be sown from seed, which germinates readily and has to be thinned out. Cuttings root readily and can form a groundcover within a short period.

Although they are succulent, Delosperma plants originate from summer rainfall areas and therefore need plenty of water. Treating them like other succulents with limited watering will cause their untimely death.

References:
South African National Biodiversity Institute, South Africa.

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