Aptenia, Baby Sun Rose, Heart Leaved Ice Plant (Aptenia cordifolia, Mesembryanthemum cordifolium)

The little flowers open in daylight and close at night.
The little flowers open in daylight and close at night.

Common names: Aptenia, Baby Sun Rose, Heart Leaved Ice Plant, Heart Leaved Midday Flower, Brakvygie; Ibohlololo

Taxonomic name:  Aptenia cordifolia, Mesembryanthemum cordifolium

Family: Aizoaceae

Uses: Ground cover, food, anti-inflammatory

Area of origin: South Africa

Warnings: None

Aptenia, or ‘Baby Sun Rose’ is one of those plants that, even if you don’t have it in your garden, you know somebody who does. It’s a very common, very hardy, sprawling succulent Aptenia gets its name from its succulent, heart shaped leaves and from the pretty pink/red flowers that open in sunlight and close at night time, giving us one of the common names – ‘Heart Leaved Midday Flower’. The flowers are solitary, growing in the leaf axils.

The stems are angular and can become woody with age and it has a root system to match the sprawling nature of the above ground parts. Stems can reach up to 60 cm long and the whole plant can cover a few square metres.

Small, opposite, heart shaped leaves are rough in texture due to a waxy coating and small protrusions called papillae (kind of like what makes your tongue feel rough) and the presence of water cells that also give the leaf a shiny appearance.

Patches can become quite dense and smother other plants.
Patches can become quite dense and smother other plants.

Being a succulent, Aptenia has soothing properties contained in the mucilage in the leaves and it can be used externally as an anti-inflammatory. It’s edible too, the juicy young leaves make a nice addition to Summer meals and it can be cooked in the same way as other succulents such as Warrigal Greens or Purslane.

Aptenia is related to other plants found on this website – Warrigal Greens, Ice Plants, Pigface and Round Leaved Pigface.

Aptenia can sure cover some ground.
Aptenia can sure cover some ground.