Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Aptenia cordifolia (L.f.) Schwantes

Frost tender, freely branching, succulent perennial with broadly ovate, bright green leaves and solitary red-purple flowers in summer or autumn.  To 5cm, spreading. A useful plant as a soil-binder.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

First botanically described as Mesembryanthemum cordifolium by Linnaeus fils in 1782 [Suppl. Pl. p.260/1782]. Transferred to Aptenia as Aptenia cordifolia by Schwantes in 1928 [Gartenflora vol.77, p.69/1928].

Mesembryanthemum cordifolium was introduced to Britain in 1774.  [JD].  The Floral Magazine figures a variegated form.  ‘A numerous and wide-spread family is that of the Mesembryanthemum.  We have but to open any dictionary, or list of plants, to see this; and we bave been often surprised that, amidst the anxiety to procure new plants for the ornamentation of the garden, none of this family has been mentioned.  Latterly, too, succulent plants, Echieverias, Sempervivums, Sedums, &c., have been so largely used, that we felt sure the Mesembryanthemum would not long be neglected; and now from the establishment of Mr. Ball, whence so many of our really valuable bedding-plants have issued, we have this variegated form of one of the numerous members of the family.

The culture of the Mesembryanthemum is very easy, either from seeds or cuttings.  In the latter case, the cuttings should be allowed to become dry at the base, and should then be inserted in a compost composed of loam, sand, lime, rubbish, and old cow manure, taking care that the pots are well drained: as they are inhabitants of the Cape of Good Hope, they ought not to be subjected to a lower temperature in winter than about 40°, while in summer they will thrive in the sunniest parts of the garden on rough rockwork &c.’  [The Floral Magazine vol.8, pl.460/1869].  Jacq. IPR pl.487/1781-1793.

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1850 and 1857 catalogues [H.140/1850].  Aptenia cordifolia is well established at Camden Park on the periphery of the house garden.


Published Oct 10, 2009 - 02:01 PM | Last updated Feb 11, 2012 - 05:00 PM

Figured is a succulent with ovate, bright green leaves and solitary red-purple flowers.  Jacquin IPR pl.487, 1781-1793.

Aptenia cordifolia (L.f.) Schwantes | Jacq. IPR pl.487/1781-1793 | BHL


Family Aizoaceae
Region of origin

South Africa

  • Mesembryanthemum cordifolium L.f.
  • Litocarpus cordifolia L.Bolus 


Common Name

Heartleaf Iceplant, Baby Sun Rose

Name in the Camden Park Record

Mesembryanthemum cordatum  

Confidence level high