Greek mesembria—midday, anthemon—flower, as flowers open widest in full sun.
Annual or biennial prostrate to slightly erect succulent herbs covered with glistening crystal-like cells (papillae). Leaves opposite at the base, alternate above, stalk, if present, very short. Flowers solitary, opposite the leaves or in terminal clusters, more or less stalkless. Sepals 4-5, slightly fused at the base, two of them sometimes leaf-like. Petal-like stamens numerous. Ovary partly inferior with (4)5 chambers; ovule placentation axile. Nectary glands 5, stigmas (4)5. Fruit a capsule; seeds small, round or flattened.
In the past the name Mesembryanthemum has been used for plants now placed in other genera; this group of genera is sometimes placed in its own family, Mesembryanthemaceae.
Ovary chambers 5.
About 70 species from coastal S Europe, SW Asia, S Africa, Atlantic Island and W North America.
Source: (1997). Aizoaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.