by Stephen Mifsud
   12 Jun 2024      ()
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Mesembryanthemum crystallinum   (Crystal Ice Plant)

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum  (AIZOOACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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Profile Date Oct-2007 (taxon update: none)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Mesembryanthemum crystallinum - datasheet created on Oct-2007. Retrieved from on 12-Jun-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Mesembryanthemum crystallinumL.
Published in Sp. Pl. : 480 (1753)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Cryophytum crystallinum (L.) N.E.Br.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Aizooaceae Rudolphi (The Fig-Marigold Family)
17 species from the Aizooaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Crystal Ice Plant, Silvery-leaved Mesembryanthemum

Maltese name(s) :

Kristallina tar-ramel, Kristallina kbira

Status for Malta :

Indigenous. Present on the Maltese islands before man

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: THEROPHYTE ( annual plants, herbaceous )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Threatened status for the Maltese Islands and has been listed in the Red Data Book (1st ed.)

Flowering Time :

May – July

Colour of Flowers:

White or Yellow


Not particularly toxic

Name Derivation :

Mesembryanthemum: Conjugation of two Greek words Mesembria - meaning midday or noon and -anthemon meaniny flower; in allusion to the fact that plants bloom at noon. In the past, many succulent plants have been classified in this genus for this artificail habit, however, many Mesembryanthemum species have been later placed to more appropriate genera sharing common morphological or/and genetic traits. (Greek origin )
crystallinum: Crystal-like. (Latin origin )

Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Remarks :

A beautiful, succulent plant with large flattened leaves covered in blister-like water cells which flowers abundantaly in late Spring to early Summer. It is becoming more rare due to human disturbances and habitat loss.

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Coastal sands and salt-marshes, sometimes in coastal wasteground.
Preferred habitat in Malta: Fertile soil close to the coast, usually as a ruderal or margins of paths and fields.
Botanical Description: Procumbent-erect, 10-30cm, annual. Whole plant densely crystalline-papillose; leaves spathulate to broadly ovate, flat; Flowers terminal and axillary, solitary, subsessile. Petals and stamens numerous. Petals longer than the sepals, white, linear. Stigmas 5. Ovary inferior; capsule with 5 valves, winged on the angles
Chromosome number: 2n=18
Distributional range: Mediterranean region

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
the Balaeric Islands, Corse, Crete, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Greece, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), ex-Jugoslavia, Sardinia, Sicily and/or Malta, Introduced in  the Azores, Portugal
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
AE(G) Ag Bl Ca dCa(C F G H L P T) Co Cr Ct dCy Eg Ga(F) Gr Hs dHs(G) Ir It Li Ma Md Sa Si(M S) Sn Tn [nAE(G) Az nAz(G M T) aBe(B L) Bl(I M N) cBy nCo aDa nEg cEs nGa(F) aGe Hs(S) cLa cLt nLu Md(D M P) cMo cRf(C E K N NW S) Sg aSu cUk(K U)]

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (10 images)
   Mesembryanthemum crystallinum   -   Image Code: MSMCY-0.
   Mesembryanthemum crystallinum   -   Image Code: MSMCY-1.
   Mesembryanthemum crystallinum   -   Image Code: MSMCY-2.
   Mesembryanthemum crystallinum   -   Image Code: MSMCY-3.
   Mesembryanthemum crystallinum   -   Image Code: MSMCY-4.
   Mesembryanthemum crystallinum   -   Image Code: MSMCY-5.
   Mesembryanthemum crystallinum   -   Image Code: MSMCY-6.
   Mesembryanthemum crystallinum   -   Image Code: MSMCY-7.
   Mesembryanthemum crystallinum   -   Image Code: MSMCY-8.
   Mesembryanthemum crystallinum   -   Image Code: MSMCY-9.

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