Iceplant, like palm trees, lush green lawns, and smog, is one of the defining charactaristics of the Southern California landscape. This ground cover is often grown on steep hillsides and sand dunes because it grows voraciously and can survive sandiness and salt, is fire resistant, and supposedly helps hold slopes up. The plant is very hardy and is impossible to get rid of once it is planted because it divides underground. It can be quite beautiful when flowering, coating the charactaristic roadcuts and hillsides of Los Angeles bright pink or purple. Like most things in the area, it doesnt really 'belong' there and adds to that strange, 'plasticy' feeling Los Angeles has. (strange that it is possible to love and hate a place so strongly at the same time, but Los Angeles is a strange place).

The most common species of iceplant is of the Cephalophyllum genus, although there are many different forms of iceplant. It is a succulent, which allows it to be very drought-hardy and also assures that it is not flammable. However, iceplant has shallow roots and is less proficient at stopping mudslides than other, more deeper-rooted plants. Also, the stuff is very invasive and can escape into nature, crowding out native plants. I have spent many hours hand-pulling it out of the last refuge of the palos verdes blue butterfly. If you want something easy to care for, and live in southern California, this stuff is pretty much bombproof. But dont plant it if you're near a natural area or another area you dont want it in.

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