Also known as New Zealand Iceplant and Pigface, this creeping succulent is a native New Zealand perennial found on coastal rocks and gravels, cliffs and sand dunes throughout the country. It has an important ecosystem function of stabilising sand dunes – the word ‘horo’ can mean ‘landslide’, and ‘kaka’ can mean ‘hair’. (The alternative name Pigface comes from the supposed similarity to the centre of the flower to the snout of a kunekune pig!) The white to bright pink summer flowers open during the day and close at night. The plant is becoming rare in the wild, and is being out-competed by its South African relative the Hottentot Fig, which has a yellow flower.
All parts of both native and non-native species are edible and have been used by indigenous people. Maori ate the fruit when ripe (summer) and would squeeze out the juice from horokaka’s succulent leaves and apply it to boils and abscesses to reduce inflammation and draw out pus. Early Europeans also ate the ripe fruits and pickled the leaves, which have a salty taste and can also be eaten raw. Fantastic ground cover for hot dry or coastal sites – requires free draining soils and prefers sandy soils but does surprisingly well on clay banks too. Will tolerate very light frosts only. Height to 25cm, spreads up to a metre. 9cm pot. Certified organic plant.