White Iceplant

White Iceplant

"Of what are you afraid, my child?"
inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild,"
replied the timid creature.

-Peter Newell


The Ralston Arboretum Newsletter noted that although this plant is so often sold under the name Delosperma herbeau, the correct spelling is herbeum. The mispelling is persistent in the nursery trade, & ours came to us with that standard mislabeling.

White IceplantD. herbeum is extremely drought tolerant but not at all tolerant of wetness. This sedum-like succulent forms a continuous groundcover in the xeriscape garden. The root system is very thick &, unlike little sedums, iceplants don't play well with other plants, & can be quite aggressive in the rockgarden, displacing slower spreaders, such as semperviva hen-&-chicks, that have the misfortune of being in its path.

Our white iceplant is in a large pot sitting on the front staircase in fullest sun. Being native to Swaziland & southeastern Botswana, this South African plant is quite naturally heat-hardy to zone 10, but it is also cold-hardy to Zone 6 & possibly 5.

It is everblooming from Spring to Autumn. The first photo was taken in April, the second in September. It flowers strongly through October.

Native Africans used the thick roots & juices of the leaves for medicinal purposes. The Tswana people make a powder of the roots & rub it into cut skin for scarification pracitices, & this is done especially over the vertebrae with the expectation that this will render the individual immune to spells of witchcraft.

Iceplants of sundry species got the name "Ice Plant" because some of them develop calcium crystals on the foliage that resemble ice crystals, but this feature will never be seen on the hardier species that can be gardened in temperate zones. Only species suited to southern California or Arizona would include those some with that unusual feature.

Beginning mid April or May, White Iceplant produces gazillions of small (half-inch) slender-petalled aster-like flowers of snowy bright white. It continues flowering throughout summer.


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