Monday, 25 May 2009


Several of Britain's flowers species are in fact not native but have been introduced from other parts of the world. While visiting Cornwall last year, Malcolm and I went to The Lizard and, blessed with exceptionally good weather, we spent a wonderful couple of hours in the sunshine looking out to sea. On the cliffs there were masses of one of these introduced flower species. The Hottentot Fig (Carpobrotus edulis).

As the scientific name suggests, these plants have edible fruits, although these are said to be quite sour. More familiar to those who holiday in the Mediterranean area, they are succulents of the Stone Plant family. Highly invasive, they have spread to Britain from private gardens, often brought in from the Med', but they are in fact native to South Africa.

They grow very quickly and each stem can put on up to 3ft a year. It is for this reason that they have become such a problem all round the world.
The flowers are very popular with bees and beetles and, where they grow in their native Africa, they are a great favourite with antelope and baboons. No baboons or antelope on The Lizard, so we'll have to just appreciate the flowers for their pink-hued beauty.
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