Saturday, 14 January 2017

Wild Foraging at the Beach - Pigface: It's All Edible!




Pigface (Carpobrotus glaucescens) is an amazingly common plant, often seen, but quite overlooked. It is so abundant around our coastal environments, so easy to grow at home and so useful. I love wild foraging for this plant along the beach, but I am also thinking of trying this plant as a ground cover in a food forest situation at home.

Did you know ….  



  1. that every part of the common beach plant, pigface, is edible - raw or cooked? - the leaves, the flowers and the fruits.  Eat it in salads and stir fries, make pickles, enjoy the slightly salty fruit.
  2. that like aloe vera, the juices of the succulent pigface leaves help to soothe itches, bites and burns?
  3. that you can you can use roasted pigface leaves can be used as a salt substitute.
  4. that pigfaces contain a lot of drinkable moisture and is a good source of water in a survival situation.
  5. that pig face can also be used as a gargle for sore throat and mild bacterial mouth infections.
  6. that it attracts bees, butterflies and other insects

Small pigface sample showing how it is a runner. Propagate simply by taking a length and planting it into some damp soil.

About Pigface

Pigface is a easily found on the east coast of Australia - right close to the beach and in the dunes. It is a hardy perennial ground cover native to Australia. I have been spotting it a lot around here in the Gippsland Lakes.  There are actually around 30 varieties of Carpobrotus, and 6 of these are native to Australia. (The main ones I see are C. glaucescens and C. rossii)




The delicious red fruits are safe to eat.

The
name, Carpobrotus, refers to the edible fruits - coming from the Ancient Greek karpos "fruit" and brotos “edible”. Pigface was harvested and used a lot by indigenous Australians both as food and medicine. Early European explorers used the plant as an anti-scurvy treatment. 

Because grows quickly as a low spreading creeper into large heavy mats, it helps protect dunes.


Pigface is playground Friendly

It’s a playground friendly plant because all it’s parts are edible. In Spring and summer, it also has such bright daisy-like flowers - usually bright pink or fucshia purple. Also it is not prickly - quite the opposite, it’s succulent leaves are soft, and fun to squish.  

I have fond beach memories as a child, sitting amongst the pigface playing with the juicy leaves, nibbling on the little berries and collecting the incredibly bright pink flowers. 

Pigface is low maintenance.

Pigface is a low maintenance plant that can be grown in arid landscape situations - like containers, courtyards, rockeries.  It is drought resistant, salt tolerant, as well as being fire resistant.


Please share how you eat or use pigface.


More Reading:

  1. https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2005/carpobrotus-glaucescens.html
  2. http://www.sgaonline.org.au/pigface-carpobrotus-glaucescens/
  3. https://www.milkwood.net/2014/01/30/snacks-for-salty-sea-dogs-foraging-pigface/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpobrotus_glaucescens
Note: A friend of mine pointed out that "rules about foraging on government-owned land vary between states in Australia and fines for foraging illegally can amount to thousands of dollars...". That's something worth exploring more!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Morag, I had no idea that pig face was an edible plant. It grows prolifically along my favourite beach (Noosa North Shore) and it is planted out as a ground cover at our local shopping centre, it's gone a big nuts and has covered a big area. Have a lovely day.
    Fi

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