Posted by: gordon | May 21, 2008

Introducing a South African Villian: Iceplant

Ice Plant (carpobrotis edulis)

Don’t let its pretty flowers fool you.

In the plant world, Iceplant is somewhere between “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” and “The Blob.” It is an import from South America, by the Coast Guard near the turn of the century, where it evidently lives a life of luxury and relaxation.*

Around Point Reyes, it can be found in large numbers around the lighthouse area. Where it grows, it chokes out native plants and give animals dirty looks.* One of the largest concerns with Iceplant today is actually what it was brought here to do in the first place: stabilize soil.

Iceplant mats are great for stabilizing loose blowing sand, but it turns out that this isn’t going to earn it a gold star. In dune habitats, stable sand hurts native plants and animals adapted to live in a more free dune life.

Rare plants like Franciscan thistle and animals like the Snowy Plover rely on the moving sands of the climbing dunes in the park to live. Dylan Voeller, Park Service Technician working on the project said, “Iceplant crowds out all the native species that would be growing here otherwise.”

This part of coastline is very rare to California because the dunes that exist here, called climbing dunes, are created from sand that is eroded from the soft sedimentary cliffs below by the action of the waves.

The Park Service, with the aide of many volunteers and other Bay Area non-profit organizations, is continuing its successful campaign to remove the Iceplant from the area around the lighthouse in the park.

Between 2002 and 2004, volunteers and staff cleared 100 acres of Iceplant from the headlands of the lighthouse area, with great success. Currently, the area is being monitored and any surviving iceplant is being removed.

This year starts a two-year program to removed the scourge of the dunes, Iceplant, from the 80 acre area north of the lighthouse. Currently Voeller is surveying the area and preparing for the removal effort.

In two years, this area, with the help of many volunteers, will be cleared of Iceplant; allowing native plants and animals to return and thrive in this unique part of the California coast line.

*unverified data



  1. […] is an import from South America, by the Coast Guard near the turn of the century, where it evidentl the wetlands Southern Highland NewsIt??s a mild winter??s day the frogs are croaking, the […]

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  3. […] heavy equipment and hundreds of volunteer, contractor and staff hours to root out prolific iceplant from nearly 200 acres of parkland surrounding the lighthouse—an early investment to remove this […]

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