Slender Iceplant

Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum L.

Synonyms - Gasoul nodiflorum

Family: Aizoaceae.


Other Names:

Small Ice Plant


An erect or low lying, usually annual herb to 20 cm high covered with large glistening warts on the leaves and stems that often have a red tinge. It has white flowers with many long thin petals in spring.



Two. Diamond shaped, with glistening water filled pimples. Tip pointed to rounded. Sides straight and angular. Base squarish to indented or clasping. Surface hairless.

First leaves:

Opposite, fleshy, diamond shaped with glistening water filled pimples. Tip pointed. Hairless.


Opposite but maybe alternate on flowering branches. They are almost semi-circular in cross section. The leaves fall before flowering.
Stipules - None.
Petiole - None.
Blade - Narrow, channelled on top. with water filled pimples or warts that appear scale like when dry. Basal leaves 8-25 mm long x 1-2 mm wide. Wither and fall early. Sparsely hairy. Tip rounded.
Stem leaves - Alternate or opposite, egg shaped and 20-40 mm long. Leaves on flowering stems are alternate.


Slender, fleshy, pimply, round, stout, low lying or erect, up to 200 mm long and 150 mm high, branched, often reddish, forms a mat. Hairless.

Flower head:

Single flowers that are stalkless in leaf axils or at the ends of branches.


White, 3-6 mm diameter. Many thin petals. Single, axillary
Ovary - Half inferior, 5 cells, 3-4 mm long, 5 ribbed. 5 erect thread like styles, 3-4 mm long.
"Sepals" - are 5 perianth lobes, 5-10 mm long, and semi terete. 7-10 mm long with a horn on back that is 1-3 mm long. 2 large and 3 small lobes. Small lobes have membranous margins.
"Petals" - are staminodes, White, many, thin and narrow, 4-5 mm long x 0.5 mm wide and fused for half their length.
Stamens - Many, (12-20), shorter than the staminodes.
Anthers - Erect, 0.7-1 mm long.
Ovary - Inferior of half inferior, faintly ribbed.


Oblong, 4-8 mm long x 3-4 mm wide 5 celled, hygroscopic capsule. Perianth lobes are not reflexed at maturity


Many, spherical, small, 1 mm, flattened, brown with a network pattern.



Key Characters:

Plant densely warty. Petals shorter than sepals. Flowers sessile. Perianth lobes with prominent horn (keel) at the base.


Life cycle:

Annual or biennial. Germinates autumn to winter mainly. Flowers late winter to summer. Most plants die with the onset of drought but in moist situations some plants may continue to grow for another season.



By seed.

Flowering times:

Spring to early summer in western NSW.
October to December in SA.
Spring in WA
October to December in Perth.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:




It maintains the topsoil in a saline condition by recycling leached salt.

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed.
Often in patches.

Origin and History:

South Africa.


Southern and western areas of NSW.
Mainly in the central and northern agricultural regions of WA.


Usually in somewhat saline areas.


Temperate. Mediterranean.


Most abundant on saline and coastal soils, sands, loams and granite outcrops.
Sandy clay, loam, clay loam, claypans and saline areas.

Plant Associations:

In many communities including Mallee and Belah-rosewood. Often around the edges of salt lakes.





Weed of roadsides, crops, pastures and islands.
Unpalatable and rarely eaten.


May cause oxalate poisoning but field cases are not common.
Oxalate concentrations up 35% have been recorded.
Most cases occur in summer.



Management and Control:

Triasulfuron (e.g. Logran®) at 40 g/ha plus 1% oil applied in winter provides reasonably selective control in many bushland situations.



Eradication strategies:

Apply 1 kg/ha diuron900 in autumn before the Iceplant emerges.
Sulfonyl urea herbicides provide good control post emergence.

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Angled Iceplant (Mesembryanthemum aitonis) has fewer glistening pimples, the petals are about the same length as the sepals and it flowers earlier.
Iceplant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum) has "petals" that are longer than the sepals and the sepals don't have a distinct keel.

Plants of similar appearance:


Bodkin, F. (1986). Encyclopaedia Botanica. (Angus and Robertson, Australia).

Blood, K. (2001). Environmental weeds: a field guide for SE Australia. (CH Jerram & Associates, Australia). P. Photos.

Cunningham, G.M., Mulham, W.E., Milthorpe, P.L. and Leigh, J.H. (1992). Plants of Western New South Wales. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P294. Photo.

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney).

Gilbey, D. (1989). Identification of weeds in cereal and legume crops. Bulletin 4107. (Western Australian Department of Agriculture , Perth). P34. Photos.

Harden, Gwen J. (1991). Flora of NSW. (Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney). Volume . P195. Diagram.

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P74. Photo.

Lazarides, M. and Cowley, K. and Hohnen, P. (1997). CSIRO handbook of Australian Weeds. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #649.3.

Paczkowska, G. and Chapman, A. (2000). The Western Australia flora: a descriptive catalogue. (Wildflower Society of Western Australia (Inc), the Western Australian Herbarium, CALM and the Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority). P134.

Wilding, J.L. et al. (1987). Crop weeds. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P37.


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