Plant Assessment Form

Carpobrotus chilensis

Synonyms: Mesembryanthemum chilensis, Carpobrotus mellei, Carpobrotus aequilaterus

Common Names: sea fig; iceplant

Evaluated on: 6/3/03

List committee review date: 01/08/2003

Re-evaluation date:


Peter J. Warner, Associate State Parks Resource Ecologist
California Dept. of Parks and Recreation
P. O. Box 603, Little River, CA 95456
(707) 937-9172; (707) 937-2278

List commitee members

Jake Sigg
Peter Warner
Joe DiTomaso
Doug Johnson
Brianna Richardson

General Comments

No general comments for this species

Table 2. Criteria, Section, and Overall Scores

Overall Score? Moderate
Alert Status? No Alert
Documentation? 2 out of 5
Score Documentation
1.1 ?Impact on abiotic ecosystem processes C Observational
Four-part score CBUD Total Score
1.2 ?Impact on plant community B. Moderate Observational
1.3 ?Impact on higher trophic levels U. Unknown No Information
1.4 ?Impact on genetic integrity D. None Other Published Material
2.1 ?Role of anthropogenic and natural disturbance in establishment B. Moderate Observational
Total Points
14 Total Score B
2.2 ?Local rate of spread with no management A. Increases rapidly Observational
2.3 ?Recent trend in total area infested within state B. Increasing less rapidly Observational
2.4 ?Innate reproductive potential
(see Worksheet A)
A. High Observational
2.5 ?Potential for human-caused dispersal C. Low Observational
2.6 ? Potential for natural long-distance dispersal A. Frequent Reviewed Scientific Publication
2.7 ?Other regions invaded U. Unknown No Information
3.1 ?Ecological amplitude/Range
(see Worksheet C)
A. Widespread
Total Score A
3.2 ?Distribution/Peak frequency
(see Worksheet C)
A. High Reviewed Scientific Publication

Table 3. Documentation

Scores are explained in the "Criteria for Categorizing Invasive Non-Native Plants that Threaten Wildlands".

Section 1: Impact
Question 1.1 Impact on abiotic ecosystem processes? C Observational
Identify ecosystem processes impacted:

soil pH reduction in loamy sand; accumulations of litter inferred from results of studies on C. edulis

Sources of information:

Question 1.2 Impact on plant community composition,
structure, and interactions?
B Observational
Identify type of impact or alteration:

displacement of native species; negative impact on water relations and morphological development of native species (inferred from study on C. edulis) personal observations; inference from published literature on closely related C. edulis

Sources of information:

Question 1.3 Impact on higher trophic levels? U No Information
Identify type of impact or alteration:

impacts unknown; deer, raccoons, rodents, et al. may feed on fruits

Sources of information:

none found

Question 1.4 Impact on genetic integrity? D Other Published Material

none known; would seem to be highly unlikely given that no closely related native species grow in California. Since this species hybridizes readily with C. edulis, differentiating ecological characteristics can be difficult. The pure species look different, and grow differently, yet hybridization can confound separating the two species in terms of impacts and management. no closely related species in California

Sources of information:

Hickman, J. C. (editor). 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Section 2: Invasiveness
Question 2.1 Role of anthropogenic and natural disturbance
in establishment?
A Observational
Describe role of disturbance:

coastal bluff erosion appears to provide unoccupied sites for germination and growth of propagules direct observation of habitat and growing sites

Sources of information:

personal observations (P. Warner, T. Sholars)

Question 2.2 Local rate of spread with no management? A Observational
Describe rate of spread:

individual plants grow very rapidly once established, at rates approaching several feet a year. This species does branch as much as C. edulis, nor root as frequently at nodes or as deeply, so mats are not as dense as those of C. edulis. Nevertheless the increase in biomass is well in excess of doubling/10 years. Pickart (1989) found an approximately 3-fold increase in absolute cover of C. chilensis over a 25-year period at Lanphere-Christensen Dunes (Humboldt Co.). 1. personal observations; 2. published, non-peer reviewed literature; 3. unpublished study

Sources of information:

1. P. Warner, T. Sholars
2. Pickart, A. J., and J. O. Sawyer. 1998. Ecology and Restoration of Northern California Coastal Dunes. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento, CA
3. Pickart, A. J. 1989. 1989 Monitoring results for northern foredune and northern foredune grassland at the Lanphere-Christensen Dunes Preserve. Unpublished document. The Nature Conservancy, Arcata, CA

Question 2.3 Recent trend in total area infested within state? B Observational
Describe trend:

Sources of information:

Hickman, J. C. 1993; personal observations (P. Warner, T. Sholars)

Question 2.4 Innate reproductive potential? A Observational
Describe key reproductive characteristics:

reproduces both by seed and vegetatively; seeds germinate well after digestion by frugivores; disturbance-prone habitat facilitates vegetative reproduction observations; some characteristics inferred from information available on C. edulis (Albert, M. in Bossard, et al. (2000))

Sources of information:

Personal observation (P. Warner); Bossard et al. (2000)

Question 2.5 Potential for human-caused dispersal? C Observational
Identify dispersal mechanisms:

this species sold commercially, including on the internet; some plants are removed and pieces distributed to new growing sites, both deliberately and unintentionally, although this is probably not a frequent occurrence. This species hybridizes readily with C. edulis, still planted widely as erosion control. personal observation; published, non-peer-reviewed (internet sites)

Sources of information:

P. Warner (personal observations); numerous horticultural internet sites

Question 2.6 Potential for natural long-distance dispersal? A Reviewed Scientific Publication
Identify dispersal mechanisms:

Sources of information:

Albert, M. in Bossard et al. (2000); personal observations (P. Warner)

Question 2.7 Other regions invaded? U No Information
Identify other regions:

From available literature, this species appears to invade only in Mediterrean climate types, and is already well-established in all suitable ecological regions in California. However, I found no definitive information on this question, only brief accounts of invasions in Chile and France. observational

Sources of information:

Peter Warner (personal observations)

Section 3: Distribution
Question 3.1 Ecological amplitude/Range? A

Well established in dune systems along entire California coast; well established on many coastal bluffs in northern California; much less common in coastal scrub and coastal prairie, yet still occasionally found there. Species introduced during pre- or early Spanish settlement of California (1500s). personal observations

Sources of information:

P. Warner (personal observations)

Question 3.2 Distribution/Peak frequency? A Reviewed Scientific Publication
Describe distribution:

common in dunes and coastal bluff scrub; less common in coastal scrub and coastal prairie 1.personal observations; 2. published, non-peer-reviewed literature; 3. published, peer-reviewed literature

Sources of information:

P. Warner
Pickart and Sawyer (1998)
Hickman, J. C. (1993)

Worksheet A - Innate reproductive potential

Reaches reproductive maturity in 2 years or less No
Dense infestations produce >1,000 viable seed per square meter No
Populations of this species produce seeds every year. Yes
Seed production sustained over 3 or more months within a population annually Yes
Seeds remain viable in soil for three or more years Unknown
Viable seed produced with both self-pollination and cross-pollination Unknown
Has quickly spreading vegetative structures (rhizomes, roots, etc.) that may root at nodes Yes
Fragments easily and fragments can become established elsewhere Yes
Resprouts readily when cut, grazed, or burned Yes
Total points: 6
Total unknowns: 2
Total score: A?

Related traits:

seed germination enhanced by animal digestion, and fruits are attractive to herbivores

Worksheet B - Arizona Ecological Types is not included here

Worksheet C - California Ecological Types

(sensu Holland 1986)
Major Ecological Types Minor Ecological Types Code?
Marine Systemsmarine systems
Freshwater and Estuarine lakes, ponds, reservoirs
Aquatic Systemsrivers, streams, canals
DunescoastalA, > 50%
Scrub and Chaparralcoastal bluff scrubB, 20% - 50%
coastal scrubD, < 5%
Sonoran desert scrub
Mojavean desert scrub (incl. Joshua tree woodland)
Great Basin scrub
chenopod scrub
montane dwarf scrub
Upper Sonoran subshrub scrub
chaparralD, < 5%
Grasslands, Vernal Pools, Meadows, and other Herb Communitiescoastal prairie
valley and foothill grassland
Great Basin grassland
vernal pool
meadow and seep
alkali playa
pebble plain
Bog and Marshbog and fen
marsh and swamp
Riparian and Bottomland habitatriparian forest
riparian woodland
riparian scrub (incl.desert washes)
Woodlandcismontane woodland
piñon and juniper woodland
Sonoran thorn woodland
Forestbroadleaved upland forest
North Coast coniferous forest
closed cone coniferous forest
lower montane coniferous forest
upper montane coniferous forest
subalpine coniferous forest
Alpine Habitatsalpine boulder and rock field
alpine dwarf scrub
Amplitude (breadth): B
Distribution (highest score): A

Infested Jepson Regions

Click here for a map of Jepson regions

  • Central West
  • Northwest
  • Southwest