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a genus of plants of the family Aizoaceae. They are low (4-60 cm) annual or biennial grasses with straight prostrate or creeping stems. The simple, alternate or opposite, succulent leaves are ovate, spatulate, or cylindrical. The entire plant is covered with glistening papillae, vesicles epidermal in origin. The bisexual flowers are solitary or in small inflorescences. The calyx is five-parted, and the numerous linear petals (staminodes) are white, red, pink, or, less often, yellow. The fruit is a five-celled capsule. There are approximately 50 species, found in southern and southwestern Africa in semideserts with sandy or rocky soils. Some species, such as Mesembryanthemum crystallinum and M. nodiflorum, grow wild in the Mediterranean region, the Canary Islands, Arabia, Iran, southern Australia, California, and Mexico. Many species are ornamentals and have been cultivated for a long time in open ground (for example, the ice plant).