Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cephalophyllum, Ice Plant
Cephalophyllum alstonii

Family: Aizoaceae (ay-zoh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cephalophyllum (sef-al-low-FILL-um) (Info)
Species: alstonii (al-STON-ee-eye) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

One member has or wants this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

under 6 in. (15 cm)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)
6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 8 photos.
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4 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive 2QandLearn On May 5, 2014, 2QandLearn from Menifee, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Red Spike 'Ice Plant' grows on our chain link fence.
Where it gets full sun all day, it only got up to 3' high.
However, where it is shaded all morning & only gets sun after noon, it has reached near 5' high.

House Sparrows regularly trim the tops of leaves at the top of the plants, apparently eating them. I read that they eat flower buds, so maybe this plant's leaves look enough like flower buds that they eat them by mistake? Or, they may have the same nutrients as the buds. When I look at the top of the plants in hot weather, I always find many of their leaf tips missing!

Positive BajaBlue On Jul 29, 2012, BajaBlue from Rancho Santa Rita, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Cephallophyllum alstonii is a creeping perennial succulent, ideal as a groundcover, or as a potplant on a patio. The spectacular, brightly coloured blood-red flowers attract insects when the flowers open.

Cephalophyllum alstonii is a creeping perennial succulent, the leaves are triangular, about 60-120 mm long, greenish, erect, and the surface is smooth throughout. Attractive, large, blood-red, flower clusters occur in winter (June-September). The fruit capsules have between 10-24 locules that contain small, pear-shaped brown seeds.

Distribution and habitat : This species occurs in the Ceres Karoo area and receive 100 to 350 mm rainfall per year, mainly in winter. It cannot tolerate heavy frost and does best in areas of low rainfall.

The genus has 33 species, and Cephalophyllum pillansii, a commonly cultivated creeper, whose yellow flowers have cherry red centres, is another noteworthy member.

Ecology The spectacular bright red flowers open mainly at midday and in the afternoon to attract insect pollinators. In this genus, dispersal of seed is closely related to the opening of the capsule
through moisture. The seeds are expelled from the locules, triggered by rain, when conditions for germination of seedlings
are favourable.

Uses and cultural aspects This popular, water-wise garden plant
is successfully used to prevent soil erosion, thus stabilizing the exposed ground. On farms, the leaves serve as a source of food for sheep.

Excerpted from

Positive Juttah On Apr 27, 2010, Juttah from Tucson, AZ (Zone 8a) wrote:

This is by no means a fast-growing plant, and for most of the year it looks like a sea anemone out of water, but when it's blooming time watch out. The fuscia color will turn heads, so don't plant it where it can cause an accident!

These plants are inexpensive and readily available. I've seen them planted together with Rosea ice plants, which bloom a little later, and the result is spectacular.

Positive cacti_lover On Feb 15, 2005, cacti_lover from Henderson, NV (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant has been in my yard for three years and they're still spreading. They seem to take the heat and cold pretty well here in this climate. It is a winter grower and bloomer. During summer, they still need some water eventhough they are somewhat dormant. Flowers are brilliant and will brighten up an area. They last for a few days. Pinch off spent flowers to encourage more blooms. Flowers will only open in bright sun. At night or during cloudy days, they remain closed.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Queen Creek, Arizona
Scottsdale, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Menifee, California
Spring Valley, California
Upland, California
Henderson, Nevada

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