This plant cached my eye with its unique bright purple color in early spring forming lush waterfall like cascades on clear rocks.
Flowers are so big and bright in April sunlight and later egg shape green fruits with thorns are developed. I always watched these juicy plants in hot summer days and was wondering how dry resistant they are, but I never thought they are edible.
Once, during late autumn promenade along the Mediterranean coast, I saw a rat eating fruits of this beautiful flower plant. My biologist instinct pushed me to take a closer look:)
I took one fruit and opened it, it really looked like a fig inside, I decided to taste it - I never eat something like this before - sticky sour salty jam like consistence full with tiny seeds. I started to research and read more what I could find about this plant.
YES, it is Fig just a Sea Figs (Carpobrotus edulis), Sour figs, Hottentot Figs known as valuable source of nutrients for wild animals around the World. Such a shame I did not knew this plant before. It is fire-retardant, erosion control, medicinal and edible. Native southern African plant, today as invasive plant it can be found in California, Florida, Australia, South of America, as far north as the coast of Caithness in Scotland and many places along the Mediterranean coastline. It is a drought tolerant that grows in full sun on well drained, loose sandy soil or rocky places. The fruits of various species of Carpobrotus are eaten by many animals and birds. Rodents eating mature fruit and spread its seeds, because of it plant very invasive and could be controlled as it provides nutrients also for black rats and it is a reason why this plant should be should be watched over. As plants grow like a mat in very poor soil, they help to preserves the dunes naturally around a sea cost and gives a great shelter to small animals.
DNA Damage Repair
Oxidative stress in the skin
Rutin, hyperoside, catechin are phenolic compounds found in the plant species Carpobrotus edulis and contributes to the antibacterial properties of the plant. Catechin and Ferulic acid acts as antioxidants. They are reactive toward free radicals such as reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS and free radicals are implicated in DNA damage, cancer, and accelerated cell aging. Ferulic acid added to a topical preparation of ascorbic acid and vitamin E, may reduce oxidative stress in skin. There is also a small amount of research showing oral supplements of ferulic acid can inhibit melanin production in the process of skin whitening. It is rich in vitamins A, B and C, mineral salts and trace elements.
Native South Africans call the fruit use the fruits in jams, eat dried fruits. Fruits are great natural preservation agent as it has very acidic pH 2,8. You also can eat them dried, however they are very hard, but soaked in water over night they become juicy and can be eaten much easier and is not sticky anymore after all . Learn more how to make jam from original recipe. Leaves are also used to make a good pickle, their have high tannin content, but not edible raw without any preparation – pricking and soaking for many hours in several changes of water. Leaves are used in salads, I did not tried them yet in salads. In fact, this tannic and astringent leaf juice can be applied externally to treat cuts, eczema, insect bites, and sunburn, while as a gargle or mouthwash it can be used to treat sore throats, gum infections and ulcers.(Source) Sounds very good for such a fast growing plant. Roman soldiers healed their wounds with juice of Sea fig leaves and eat the fruits in their long road conquering a new territories. They have a reason. I believe that natives know best this plant and it medical uses and I found some useful information here.
Best time to foraging a sea figs is from late of August to November.
They are ready to be dry and use later in a winter time when needed.
They are ready to dry.
You peel it and eat the fruit inside, you have to pell of outer layer with horns.
When you squeeze it jams-like purees comes out of fig. It has sour salty taste, if they are not mature enough, strong astringent taste could be expected. It reminds me my first try to eat salted olive long time ago. Not everyone loves it from first time, but it has its own very unique characteristics.
This autumn I decided to make a Sea Fig Plasma Water Extract
This bright yellow color is caused by direct sunlight, solution is has more deep orange color in daylight.
Sea Fig Plasma water after centrifuge, still visible crystalline structure under microscope with 600x magnification. I love these spikes !
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