ice plant, low, fleshy plant ( Cryophytum crystalinum ) of warm, dry, barren regions. It is cultivated chiefly as a curiosity because of its leaves, densely coated with small, glistening, bladder-shaped hairs. The ice plant and many other related herbs (e.g., New Zealand spinach), often with fantastic shapes, are sometimes combined in the genus Mesembryanthemum. They grow in abundance in South Africa, whence many had been introduced to European botanical gardens by 1600. Ice plants are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Caryophyllales, family Aizoaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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