Cotyledon orbiculata

African pig's ear

Also known as:

Pig's ear, round-leafed navel wort, elk horn

Family: Crassulaceae

Origin: South Africa

A close up of African pig's ear growing on a rock.
This succulent has powdery-looking, grey-green opposite leaves.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • National Pest Plant Accord Species
  • Whole region — Sustained control

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Succulent, clump-forming sub-shrub < 1 m tall. Leaves are grey-green with red margins. Flowers are bell-shaped, orange/red/pink and borne on stems < 50 cm tall in December – June.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell African pig’s ear. As African pig’s ear is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant African pig's ear within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any African pig's ear on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.


Coastal cliffs, rocky outcrops, banks, dunes, scrub, grasslands, pasture.


Seeds dispersed by wind and gravity. Vegetative spread from fragments.

Impact on environment

Displaces native coastal vegetation. Can form dense clumps in coastal ecosystems.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: All parts.

Disposal options: Small amounts can be rotted in a covered water barrel or remove to greenwaste or landfill.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

Basic Growsafe certified:

For small infestations: Foliar spray with 3g metsulfuron-methyl plus 150ml glyphosate per 10L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user:

For medium to large infestations: Foliar spray with 3g metsulfuron-methyl plus 150ml glyphosate per 10L of water and 10ml penetrant.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

African pig's ear growing out of the ground with large hard leaves and stalks of flowers.
It has clusters of orange, bell-shaped, drooping flowers in summer.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
African pigs ear growing down a coastal rock face.
African pig's ear is fast growing and can outcompete native species.