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 ….
- 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.
- that like aloe vera, the juices of the succulent pigface leaves help to soothe itches, bites and burns?
- that you can you can use roasted pigface leaves can be used as a salt substitute.
- that pigfaces contain a lot of drinkable moisture and is a good source of water in a survival situation.
- that pig face can also be used as a gargle for sore throat and mild bacterial mouth infections.
- 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.|
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.
Labels: food, foraging, gardening, perennials, permaculture