T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Disphyma australe subsp. australe (Horokaka)

Kingdom: Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Eudicots
(Unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Aizoaceae
Genus: Disphyma
Species: Disphyma australe subsp. australe
Synonyms: Mesembryanthemum australe
Common names: Horokaka, Native ice plant, New Zealand ice plant

Disphyma australe subsp. australe is a trailing, succulent herb native to New Zealand. It grows on Three Kings, North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands. It is a coastal plant and is rarely found inland. Its usual habitat is coastal cliff faces and rocks, salt meadows, estuaries and sometime behind sandy beaches. Occasionally found on limestone or sandstone cliffs in lowland forest (Western Waikato). It also grows in petrel scrub on offshore islands and extending into the coastal forest around petrel burrows. Often where seabirds nest it is the only plant growing. 
It produces white to deep pink >6cm flowers though out the year (mainly in summer).
"There are two different main variants of this plant, one green (never or rarelyproducing red colour) and one which contains the red pigment (betanine) in different amounts. These are usually called the “red” or the “green” form; however, the amount of betanine and therefore their appearance may vary from population to population.
Sometimes the two “forms” form intermixing populations. The red form bears always light pink to pink flowers and the green form always white flowers. The flower is self sterile, so that cross pollination is needed in order to set seed."  (Eduart Zimer Septembrie 2012)

Early Europeans pickled the leaves and the ripe fruit was eaten raw. Maoris treated boils with juices from the leaves.
For more detail read Eduart Zimer's article at  http://xerophilia.ro/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Articole-nr.2-Disphyma-australe-ssp.-australe.pdf





Photographed at Otira Wilton Bush Reserve November