Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A large genus of dicotyledonous polypetalous plants of the natural order Ficoideæ, the figmarigold family, type of tribe Mesembryanthemeæ. They are erect or prostrate fleshy herbs, sometimes slightly woody, with thick fleshy leaves, and showy white, yellow, or rose-colored flowers in terminal or axillary clusters. The fruit is a capsule, which is hygroscopic, swelling out and opening in the rain, and so allowing the seeds to escape. The genus embraces some 300 species, reaching by far its greatest development in South Africa, a few species, mostly littoral, being scattered in the Canaries, the Mediterranean region, Australia, etc. A general name for the species is fig-marigold, also
midday-flowerand pig's-face. M. crystallinum is the ice-plant (which see). M. acinaciforme and M. edule of South Africa are called Hottentot fig. M. dolalriformeis the hatchet-leafed fig-marigold (see cut under dolabriform). See dog's-chop, cat-chop, and fig
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Bot.) A genus of herbaceous or suffruticose plants, chiefly natives of South Africa. The leaves are opposite, thick, and fleshy. The flowers usually open about midday, whence the name.
- n. South African annual or biennial plants having flowers that open only in bright sunlight
“For DP Robin, Lithops, Conophytums and several other families of similar-looking plants all belong to the Mesembryanthemum family, along with familiar garden plant like Hottentot Fig.”
“Rocky and sand plants include Mesembryanthemum gaussenii (E), Pseuderucaria clavata and Acacia scorpioides.”
“One of this family is edible (‘Mesembryanthemum edule’); another possesses a tuberous root, which may be eaten raw; and all are furnished with thick, fleshy leaves, having pores capable of imbibing and retaining moisture from a very dry atmosphere and soil, so that, if a leaf is broken during a period of the greatest drought, it shows abundant circulating sap.”
“The principal inducement to the natives to frequent the small plains where we were encamped, appeared to be, to get the fruit of the Mesembryanthemum, which grew there in immense quantities, and was now just ripe; whilst the scrub, by which these plains were surrounded, seemed to be alive with wallabie, adding variety to abundance in the article of food.”
“For some days past, we had been travelling through a country in which the Mesembryanthemum grows in the greatest abundance, it was in full fruit, and constituted a favourite and important article of food among the native population; all our party partook of it freely, and found it both a wholesome and an agreeable addition to their fare; when ripe, the fruit is rich, juicy, and sweet, of about the size of a gooseberry.”
“It was most provoking to see the careless indifference with which they did this, sheltering themselves under the shade of a few shrubs, or lounging about the slopes near us, to gather the berries of the Mesembryanthemum.”
“The ice plant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum) is native to South Africa.”
“Caragana appears at about 10,000 feet, a Tamerioid of large stature in abundance, Asphodelus, not as I thought a Mesembryanthemum, but a beautiful and very distinct species; see Catalogue for other plants.”
“R. mesembryanthemoides (Mesembryanthemum-like); Bot.”
“Thus, in R. Cassytha, the long, fleshy, whip-like branches and white berries are very similar to Mistletoe; R. salicornoides, with its leafless, knotty branches, resembles a Salicornia, or Marsh Samphire; another is like a Mesembryanthemum; and so on.”
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