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Since I'm on a Rock Samphire kick*-- adventures pending -- I've been researching its accompanying edible succulent, Pigface. It turns out that Pigface is easier to get a handle on than Samphire because there are two main varieties among Australian native flora.

Pigface  (Carpobrotus):  Carpobrotus glaucescens  -- Angular Pigface is the Queensland local--  and the marketed variety is Carpobrotus rossii -- native to WA and southern Australia. [Pictured left].

I'm trying to get a 'feel' the succulent leaves of  Carpobrotus rossii  --as I do grow it (I think!) as isn't as active as the local species but it does well nonetheless in sandy soils. There are recipes.

The associated plus is that the fruits are very tasty like slightly salty Kiwi fruit.I really like them...but the leaves on Pigfaces are variously astringent. You'd spit Carpobrotus glaucescens out.(I do). the leaves of Carpobrotus rossii  are tolerable I need to explore more how they cook up.

It turns out that the taxonomy is more complicated than I thought:

Pigface; Carpobrutus rossi, also known as- noonflower, iceplant and cutwort.

Widely used and a prized food of many Australian Aboriginals. There are 4 main Australian species in addition to C. rossi;

C. aequilaterus – correct noonflower
C. glaucescens- (NSW, QLD)
C. modestus- Inland Pigface, drought resistant (Vic, SA, WA)
C. virescens- shrubby pigface often found on offshore islands (SW Aust)
C. edulis- South African but now naturalised in many parts of Australia- invasive. Yellow and white flowers.
They are all expected to have similar chemical composition however I could only find proper research/information on the rossi and edulis varieties.


1. Edible leaves have a mildly salty, juicy pulp; proven- antioxidant, anti scurvy (Vit.C) and anti platelet.

2. Use like aloe vera externally; shown anti-inflammatory properties in vivo. Mucilaginous, good for stings, snake bites, burns.

3. Make tincture / concentrate- several closely related species show antibacterial properties (C.edulis+ co.). Great possibilities but external only for now- due to lack of toxicity information.

4. Make jam/jelly with pulp. Eat in salad or stirfry. Chop and use as a relish with meat. Pickle like cucumbers.

5. Plant can be chopped up with a spade and dug into the ground. This works sort of like water storage crystals and reduces hydrophobia(water repellency) in sandy soils.


6. Flowers and fruits sweet and edible. Tastes like salty kiwifruit, figs or strawberries. No known research on properties or nutrient value of these. Possibly high in Vitamin C. Squeeze bottom of fruit into mouth to collect the juice, seeds and fruit. Discard skin.

7. Make jam/chutney with flowers and fruits.Combo with pulp possibly. Icecream syrups and other sweets possible.

8. Beautiful (usually purple) flowers, profuse in summer and autumn and sporadic at all other times of year, attract bees and other pollinators.

*I've been trying to zero in on the plant marketed as Samphire from the Snowy River farm in Victoria. Of the Tecticornia there are a few species in Australia as it is succulent, salt tolerant plant largely endemic to Australia -- these are collectively referred to as 'Samphire' but their edible status is usually about the seeds.

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C.rossii is apparently  best prepared lightly steamed or fried; don’t overcook.Parboil first?

Tasmanian research indicates its flavinoids may be an effective treatment in diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Okay, Dave. You've managed to get me interested in Pigface. Where is the best place to get the C. rossii and C. glaucescens plants?

C. glaucescens  is all over Moreton Bay as it is the local species so a place to start is the BRIBIE ISLAND COMMUNITY NURSERY .

 C.rossi is more difficult to locate but if you look at the plant the leaves are a dead give away and I got mine from a stall selling a range of pigface at the Caboolture Markets. 

You could also get cuttings from me.I'm in Beachmere.

It seems not to be a popular plant among succulent fanciers -- too common. But take care, as I suggest, with the South African import,  C. edulis -- the Hottentot Fig -- which has a white/yellowish flower and is very invasive. I mean it is invasive enough to be flagged as a serous ecological threat.I think it is also sold among the types at the Cab Markets.

Having said that, I took a cutting from a council roadside planting here in my township and I'm pretty certain it's Edulis.I'm growing it on to see what it is before complaining to council. Why they planted edulis and rossi side by side  in a Moreton Bay seaside town I don't know...Edulis has attractive red tips like crab claws.

Depending on your aim, and where you live,I recommend C. glaucescens as a ground cover/mulch.  C.rossi  is not as active in our climate. It  keeps to itself more, although I'm experimenting with my plantings. Its habit is more contained and the stems grow closer together. The stems and the leaves are also heavier. It grows but doesn't thrive here. But in my experience is is keener to flower than Glaucescen so it 'fruits' more.

It flowers as we speak....




Hi  all I know while I was on nth stradbroke island there were huge amounts of it growing just off the 4wd tracks leading to the beach and being run over .Cant see a problem if a little bit ended up in your garden at least it would be looked after and loved.Not that I am one for illegally stripping our flora and fauna just down to earth. I suppose its the same with  all the seaweed  that ends up on the beaches; did anyone one know it is actually illegal to  take how rediculous better of in everyones garden as councils only rake and take it for landfill what a bloody joke.

As I understand it, the rotting seaweed provides food for the sand-dwellers. Like … um Pippis perhaps, sand worms, sand fleas and whatever else loves to live on the tidal edge of our oceans and beaches. If the Councils rake it and dump it then they are the environmental vandals and not the occasional gardener who fancies some on their Beetroot. The biggest and most succulent Beetroot I've ever eaten came from a garden liberally fertilised with seaweed.

A neighbour was visited by authorities after he took a trailer load of seaweeds/dead seagrasses off the local beaches here but the legality issue is confusing.

In Tassie you can collect 100 kgm per person per day.In NSW it seems to be OK so long as it's outside of any marine or national parks, aquatic reserves, RAMSAR wetlands or other protected zones, is dead/unattached and is less that 20kg per day

In SEQ/Moreton Bay you do need to make sure there's no lyngbya outbreak at the time (and don't get lyngba mixed up with seaweed as it may look like seaweed) but generally, in my experience , the Moreton  Bay 'seaweeds' are seagrasses(which are not seaweeds at all)  -- often ripped up by storms or killed off by turbidity -- and washed ashore. They die massively after each major flood. During some months you get a quantity of brown filagree seaweed..but generally, there's not much on the bay beaches  unlike my experiences of Victoria where the kelps can pile over a metre high and stink big time.

I suspect that's because most of the shoreline contour is built on sand -- sand islands especially -- and many of the bigger seaweeds cant get purchase as they prefer rocky bottoms. So there aren't many species on offer in quantity washed up. My guess any  big bits would come in from Migloo Reef off Moreton Island.

Here too, accumulated dry and dead grasses are alive with when you turn them over, be prepared.

The seagrasses are no doubt a key component of Mangrove ecology as they team up to colonise the shoreline and no doubt when the grass dies and rots it feeds the Mangroves. But you need to note that Moreton Bay seagrasses are in disaster mode. See Seagrass Watch for details -- but note that Deception Bay only a few short years ago was covered in seagrass beds... 

Extensive (~2100ha) seagrass meadows were present in the southern part of Deception Bay in December 1987 (Hyland et al. 1989). These included meadows of Zostera capricorni with someHalophila ovalis inshore, and meadows generally <10% cover of Halophila ovalisHalophila spinulosaHalophila decipiens subtidally.

Approximately 15km2 of seagrass meadows were lost in the southern Bay in 1996 following a 1-in-20 year flood event and there has been no subsequent recovery. Lack of seagrass recovery is likely due to discharge of poor quality water from the Caboolture River which remains a pressure on Deception Bay's overall ecosystem health. Poor flushing in that area of Deception Bay compounds the impact of this discharge. Recovery in the area is most likely being limited by the poor water clarity. Water quality is however improving, as Deception Bay is characterised by fair to good water quality and good biological health (EHMP 2004).

During 2002-2003, Lyngbya blooms covered up to 30% of seagrass meadows in northern Deception Bay. Lyngbya was found predominantly on the meadows at Godwin's Beach extending to the mouth of Pumicestone Passage. A similar result was recorded in 2001-2002

Seaweeds Australia, professional seaweed botanists, noted as recently as November 2013:

I have been unable to obtain information regarding the regulations of seaweed collecting in Queensland and the Northern Territory so I advise any potential seaweed foragers to contact their relevant government departments before heading to the beach. In Queensland, contact that Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and in the Northern Territory, contact the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.

I haven't collected any for a year. But it's great stuff. I used horse feed bags leftover from manure purchases..but beach accumulation is not a frequent occurrence.If we get a run of cyclones I suggest you go fossicking along east facing beaches in their wake.

Thanks for that great article  .On the beaches nth and sth of the bay would be a better place to get any of that kelp as you said after a good blow.My family on the central coast of nsw get huge piles of it after a major storms really do miss that.

I found this on the Qld DFF site, Protection and management of marine plants, but they don't specifically mention seaweed/kelp. Seagrass is specifically mentioned, though. Apparently you can't collect any of it, alive or dead without a permit, and there's no info on permits. You'd have to call "Customer service".

That's reasonable I think because the reality is that (a) there aren't much seaweed in the bay anyway (unlike the accumulation you get down south) and (b) the sea grass is a key  under sea component that determines so much of what happens ecologically.

Once upon a time the Dugong inhabited Moreton Bay like the beasts of the Serengeti until genocidal slaughter slashed their numbers. But today the numbers are ruled by the growth on the remaining patches of seagrass.All of these are under threat from river run off and silting.

If you check the numbers the devastation of the 2010-2011 Qld  floods killed hundreds of Dugong, esp in Harvey Bay...and that's the main issue the health of the catchments which aren't improving much at all.

However, compared to the main threats to the seagrasses...

 Pollution, land clearing and direct damage are the main threats to seagrasses. High nutrient inputs from agricultural and urban run-off cause algae blooms. These blooms shade the seagrass beds, reducing their health and productivity and even killing them completely. Sediments washed into rivers, creeks and down drains flow into Moreton Bay Marine Park and prevent sunlight from reaching seagrasses. Sediments can also smother the seagrasses and the animals that live amongst them.

Moreton Bay’s seagrasses are also under direct threat from land reclamation, boat propellers, boat anchors, trawlers nets and dredging operations for channels, canal estates, airport and port developments...

...collecting a bag of dead grass 'clippings' after a cyclone's been through  is not among them.If you want to protect the seagrasses -- and we all should -- 

  • garden organically and don't use commercial fertilisers
  • foster non industrial agriculture
  • oppose all developments along water courses and seaways
  • defend green spaces
  • respect the seagrass beds when boating

But look at it this way -- compare your bag of dead green stuff to the fact that Comiskey Corp is building a holiday and convention centre at Toorbal... on the Western shore of Pumicetone Passage and is still fighting to get marina approval. The obscenity of this relative to bay  and passage ecology  is staggering. On top of the last remaining seagrass bed in the northern bay, they actively engineer development detritus and increase boating numbers.

I'm not the best at interpreting "legislation", but from what I can tell, basically any plant material found on tidal land is considered a "marine plant" and is protected. So that would include any seaweed that has washed up in addition to the seagrass and other specifically mentioned plants. (Reference FISHERIES ACT 1994, Part 1, Division 3, Subdivision 2, Number 8 "Me...)

It does not include the Pigface. The pigface comes under different consideration, as a Major Dune Plant for coastal ecology. What that means for collection, I can't say. My eyes started glazing over after reading page upon page of information that didn't answer my questions directly. I get the impression that you shouldn't disturb it, but I can't find anything that specifically says that. Carpobrotus glaucescens has an NCA Status of "least concern", but what that means for collection, I don't know.

Really, how difficult is it to come up with a list or direction in plain English to say that you can or cannot collect, pick or take cuttings of? Why is the information so difficult to find and interpret?

Good luck to anyone who can find the information. I, for one, would like to know what we can and cannot forage for legally. Sounds like a good research topic for a book: "Food and Plant Foraging in Queensland", if there is a legal way to do it.

Here's a grabber:

In late 1891 a pod of Dugongs were spotted just off Woody Point on the Redcliffe Peninsula.  It is said that this pod measured approximately 8km wide by 300 metres deep.  It was estimated that there were 10s of thousands of dugongs.  Today this number sits just over 500.  So where have all the dugongs gone?

My point about 'seaweed' collection -- legality issues aside -- is that it's neither here nor there.The sea grass beds and the Dugong are dying OUT in massive numbers and the consequence, in part, is that there isn't much 'seaweed'  (sea grass) to collect aside from times of extensive die off.

That we may take dead seagrass 'clippings' for our gardens is much more ecologically considerate than the real estate protocols on the shoreline and along the catchments. 

I think fishing in Moreton Bay is problematical. Motor boating has consequences. Onshore and marina development  should be banned. All mangrove stands should be absolutely protected with controlled access. All river catchments should be more rigorously policed for sediment and pollutant run off.

Last week I sat in a session with my local councillor while he went on extolling the advantages of dumping sediment dredged from developments up river at the Caboolture River mouth...and I have to think the guy and his mates are absolute morons and vandals! 

But  if organic oriented folk collecting dead seaweeds/seagrasses washed ashore is a regulatory  issue, then that's obscenely perverse!

As for plant collection, the Bribie Island Community Nursery goes out collecting specimens every Thursday morning  all about. So collecting pigface stems is an straightforward business of grabbing 6 inches of a whole meadow...Golly my own meadows started with just six inch cuttings snipped off the shoreline-- an  I'm in the same ecological zone.

If you want legal cover , get it from the Bribie Island folk

I can take cuttings of  native species  but I can't get council to deal with exotic invasive weeds a metre away from the pigface stand...and all councils use poisons to control exotic weed infestations in native habitats...


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