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The Aizoaceae, or fig-marigold family, is a large
family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to the same Politic ...
of
dicotyledon The dicotyledons, also known as dicots (or more rarely dicotyls), are one of the two groups into which all the flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "a ...
ous
flowering plants Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greec ...
containing 135
genera Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying gr ...
and about 1800
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...

species
. They are commonly known as ice plants or carpet weeds. They are often called vygies in South Africa and New Zealand. Highly
succulent In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the An ...
species that resemble stones are sometimes called mesembs.


Description

The family Aizoaceae is widely recognised by taxonomists. It once went by the botanical name "Ficoidaceae", now disallowed. The APG II system of 2003 (unchanged from the
APG system The APG system (Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system) of plant classification is the first version of a modern, mostly molecular A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. ...
of 1998) also recognizes the family, and assigns it to the order
Caryophyllales Caryophyllales ( ) is a diverse and heterogeneous order (biology), order of flowering plants that includes the cactus, cacti, Dianthus, carnations, amaranths, Aizoaceae, ice plants, Beta (plant), beets, and many carnivorous plants. Many members a ...
in the clade
core eudicots The eudicots, Eudicotidae or eudicotyledons are a clade A clade (), also known as a monophyletic group or natural group, is a group of organisms that are monophyly, monophyletic – that is, composed of a common ancestor and all its lineage ...
. The APG II system also classes the former families Mesembryanthemaceae Fenzl, Sesuviaceae Horan. and Tetragoniaceae Link under the family Aizoaceae. The common Afrikaans name "vygie" meaning "small fig" refers to the fruiting capsule, which resembles the true fig. Glistening epidermal bladder cells give the family its common name "ice plants". Most species (96%, 1782 species in 132 genera) in this family are endemic to arid or semiarid parts of Southern
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
in the
Succulent Karoo 300px, Map of the two WWF. Satellite image from NASA">World_Wide_Fund_for_Nature.html" ;"title="Karoo ecoregions as delineated by the World Wide Fund for Nature">WWF. Satellite image from NASA. The yellow line encloses the two ecoregions. The gr ...
. Much of the Aizoaceae's diversity is found in the Greater Cape Floristic Region, which is the most plant-diverse temperate region in the world. A few species are found in
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
and the
Central Pacific
Central Pacific
area. Most fig-marigolds are
herbaceous Herbaceous plants are vascular plants that have no persistent wood, woody stems above ground, including many perennial plant, perennials, and nearly all Annual plant, annuals and Biennial plant, biennials. Definitions of "herb" and "herbaceous" ...
, rarely somewhat woody, with
sympodial Sympodial growth is a wikt:bifurcation, bifurcating branching pattern where one branch develops more strongly than the other, resulting in the stronger branches forming the primary shoot and the weaker branches appearing laterally. A sympodium, a ...
growth and
stems
stems
either erect or prostrate.
Leaves A leaf (plural leaves) is the principal lateral appendage of the vascular plant plant stem, stem, usually borne above ground and specialized for photosynthesis. The leaves, stem, flower and fruit together form the shoot system. Leaves are ...

Leaves
are simple, opposite or alternate, and more or less succulent with entire (or rarely toothed) margins.
Flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom Image:Cerisier du Japon Prunus serrulata.jpg, Cherry blossoms in Paris in full bloom. In botany, blossoms are the flowers of stone fruit fruit tree, trees (genus ''Prunus'') and of some other plan ...

Flower
s are perfect in most species (but unisexual in some), actinomorphic, and appear singularly or in few-flowered cymes developing from the leaf axils.
Sepal A sepal ( or ) is a part of the flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom Cherry blossoms in Paris in full bloom. In botany, blossoms are the flowers of stone fruit fruit tree, trees (genus ''Prunus'') and of some other p ...
s are typically five (3-8) and more or less connate (fused) below. True
petal Petals are modified leaves A leaf (plural leaves) is the principal lateral appendage of the vascular plant plant stem, stem, usually borne above ground and specialized for photosynthesis. The leaves, stem, flower and fruit together fo ...

petal
s are absent. However, some species have numerous linear petals derived from staminodes. The seed capsules have one to numerous seeds per cell and are often hygrochastic, dispersing seeds by "jet action" when wet.


Evolution

The radiation of the Aizoaceae, specifically the subfamily Ruschioideae, was one of the most recent among the
angiosperms Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greec ...

angiosperms
, occurring 1.13-6.49 Mya. It is also one of the fastest radiations ever described in the angiosperms, with a diversification rate of about 4.4 species per million years. This diversification was roughly contemporaneous with major radiations in two other succulent lineages,
Cactaceae A cactus (plural cacti, cactuses, or less commonly, cactus) is a member of the plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light en ...

Cactaceae
and ''
Agave ''Agave'' (, , ) is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), ...

Agave
.'' The family includes many species that use
crassulacean acid metabolism Crassulacean acid metabolism, also known as CAM photosynthesis, is a carbon fixation Carbon fixation or сarbon assimilation is the process by which inorganic carbon (particularly in the form of carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide (chemical form ...
as pathway for
carbon fixation Carbon fixation or сarbon assimilation is the process by which inorganic carbon (particularly in the form of carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide (chemical formula ) is a colorless gas with a density about 53% higher than that of dry air. Carbon ...
. Some species in the subfamily Sesuvioideae instead use carbon fixation, which might have evolved multiple times in the group.


Taxonomy

Because of the hyperdiversity of the Aizoaceae and the young age of the clade, many generic and species boundaries are uncertain.


Subfamily Aizooideae

Genera: *'' Acrosanthes'' Eckl. & Zeyh. *'' Aizoanthemum'' Dinter ex Friedrich *''
Aizoon ''Aizoon'' or ''Aizoön'' is a genus of flowering plants in the iceplant family, Aizoaceae. Distribution ''Aizoon'' is native to parts of North Africa, North, East Africa, East and Southern Africa as well as West Asia. It has been introduced to ...
'' L. *'' Gunniopsis'' Pax *'''' L.


Subfamily Mesembryanthemoideae

Genera:


Subfamily Ruschioideae

Genera: ;Tribe Ruschieae *'' Acrodon'' N.E.Br *'' Aloinopsis'' Schwantes *'' Amphibolia'' L.Bolus ex A.G.J.Herre *'' Antegibbaeum'' Schwantes ex C.Weber *'' Antimima'' N.E.Br *'' Arenifera'' A.G.J.Herre *''
Argyroderma ''Argyroderma'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer t ...
'' N.E.Br *'' Astridia'' Dinter *'' Bergeranthus'' Schwantes *'' Bijlia'' N.E.Br *'' Braunsia'' Schwantes *'' Brianhuntleya'' Chess. et al. *''
Carpobrotus ''Carpobrotus'', commonly known as pigface, ice plant, sour fig, Hottentot fig, and clawberry is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, includi ...
'' N.E.Br *'' Carruanthus'' (Schwantes) Schwantes *'' Cephalophyllum'' N.E.Br *'' Cerochlamys'' N.E.Br *''Chasmatophyllum'' Dinter & Schwantes *''Cheiridopsis'' N.E.Br *''Circandra'' N.E.Br *''Conophytum'' N.E.Br *''Corpuscularia'' Schwantes *''Cylindrophyllum'' Schwantes *''Delosperma'' N.E.Br *''Dicrocaulon'' N.E.Br *''Didymaotus'' N.E.Br *''Dinteranthus'' Schwantes *''Diplosoma'' Schwantes *''Disphyma'' N.E.Br *''Dracophilus'' (Schwantes) Dinter & Schwantes *''Drosanthemum'' Schwantes *''Eberlanzia'' Schwantes *''Ebracteola'' Dinter & Schwantes *''Enarganthe'' N.E.Br *''Erepsia'' N.E.Br *''Esterhuysenia'' L.Bolus *''Faucaria'' Schwantes *''Fenestraria'' N.E.Br *''Frithia'' N.E.Br *''Gibbaeum'' Haw. ex N.E.Br *''Glottiphyllum'' Haw. ex N.E.Br *''Hallianthus'' H.E.K.Hartmann *''Hereroa'' (Schwantes) Dinter & Schwantes *''Ihlenfeldtia'' H.E.K.Hartmann *''Imitaria'' N.E.Br *''Jacobsenia'' L.Bolus & Schwantes *''Jensenobotrya'' A.G.J.Herre *''Jordaaniella'' H.E.K.Hartmann *''Juttadinteria'' Schwantes *''Khadia'' N.E.Br *''Lampranthus'' N.E.Br *''Lapidaria margaretae, Lapidaria'' (Dinter & Schwantes) N.E.Br. *''Leipoldtia'' L.Bolus *''Lithops'' N.E.Br *''Machairophyllum'' Schwantes *''Malephora'' N.E.Br *''Malotigena'' Niederle *''Mestoklema'' N.E.Br. ex Glen *''Meyerophytum'' Schwantes *''Mitrophyllum'' Schwantes *''Monilaria'' (Schwantes) Schwantes *''Mossia'' N.E.Br *''Muiria'' N.E.Br *''Namaquanthus'' L.Bolus *''Namibia (plant), Namibia'' (Schwantes) Schwantes *''Nananthus'' N.E.Br *''Nelia (plant), Nelia'' Schwantes *''Neohenricia'' L.Bolus *''Octopoma'' N.E.Br *''Odontophorus (plant), Odontophorus'' N.E.Br *''Oophytum'' N.E.Br *''Ophthalmophyllum'' Dinter & Schwantes *''Orthopterum'' L.Bolus *''Oscularia'' Schwantes *''Ottosonderia'' L.Bolus *''Pleiospilos'' N.E.Br *''Polymita (plant), Polymita'' N.E.Br *''Psammophora'' Dinter & Schwantes *''Rabiea'' N.E.Br *''Rhinephyllum'' N.E.Br *''Rhombophyllum'' (Schwantes) Schwantes *''Ruschia'' Schwantes *''Ruschianthemum'' Friedrich *''Ruschianthus'' L.Bolus *''Schlechteranthus'' Schwantes *''Schwantesia'' Dinter *''Scopelogena'' L.Bolus *''Smicrostigma'' N.E.Br *''Stayneria'' L.Bolus *''Stoeberia'' Dinter & Schwantes *''Stomatium'' Schwantes *''Tanquana'' H.E.K.Hartmann & Liede *''Titanopsis'' Schwantes *''Trichodiadema'' Schwantes *''Vanheerdea'' L.Bolus ex H.E.K.Hartmann *''Vanzijlia'' L.Bolus *''Vlokia'' S.A.Hammer *''Wooleya'' L.Bolus *''Zeuktophyllum'' N.E.Br


Subfamily Sesuvioideae

This subfamily includes a number of species. Genera: *''Cypselea'' Turpin *''Sesuvium'' L. *''Trianthema'' L. *''Tribulocarpus'' S.Moore *''Zaleya'' Burm.f.


Uses

Several genera are cultivated. ''Lithops'', or "living stones", are popular as novelty house plants because of their stone-like appearance. Some species are edible, including: * ''Carpobrotus edulis'' (Hottentot fig, highway ice plant) has List of plants with edible leaves, edible leaves and fruit. * ''Mesembryanthemum crystallinum'' has edible leaves. * ''Tetragonia tetragonoides'' ("New Zealand spinach") is grown as a garden plant in somewhat dry climates and used as an alternative to spinach in upscale salads. ''Carpobrotus edulis, C. edulis'' was introduced species, introduced to California in the early 1900s to stabilize soil along railroad tracks and has become invasive. In southern California, ice plants are sometimes used as firewalls; however, they do burn if not carefully maintained.


Footnotes


References

* *


External links


Aizoaceae
in L. Watson and M.J. Dallwitz (1992 onwards)
''The families of flowering plants''

NCBI Taxonomy Browser

P. Chesselet (2004 onwards). Interactive Mesembs2

Plants of southern Africa (2005 onwards). SANBI




Flowers in Israel

i
BoDD – Botanical Dermatology Database
{{Taxonbar, from=Q156219 Aizoaceae, Caryophyllales families Flora of South Africa Fynbos Succulent plants