Common name: Hottentot Fig
Scientific name: Carpobrotus edulis, Carpobrotus acinaciformis
Brief description: Plants with fleshy, elongated leaves with a triangular cross-section, the flowers are very striking, and up to 10cm big, of a yellow, fuchsia or sometimes white colour. The roots do not go very deep but the plants, with their creeping habit, are able to develop over wide surface areas, sometimes covering entire stretches of coastline.
Biology and ecology: It spreads mainly via vegetative means and through seeds, dispersed by small mammals. The morphological and physiological characteristics allow these plants to support strong aridity and high temperatures very well. It is able to grow in areas with scarce soil, such as rocky coastlines and sandy beaches.
Distribution in the Tuscan Archipelago and introduction: It is a group of species that originates from South Africa; in the Mediterranean basin at least two species were introduced for ornamental purposes: C.edulis and C.acinaciformis. The two forms are considered as one as they are very similar and able to hybridise. In the Tuscan Archipelago the species is currently very widespread on the Islands of Elba, Giglio and Giannutri.
Impact: The Hottentot Fig competes with other species both above ground for space, and underground for water and nutrients. The expansion of this plant is a serious threat, above all on the islands and in particular on rocky coastlines which are conservation sites for important native species.
Management in protected areas: Over the years the Park has conducted various projects for the eradication of the species, first of all on the Island of Capraia, then at Pianosa. With the project “Resto con Life” workers are also intervening to eliminate the species from the Island of Giannutri.