The humble succulent spekboom has recently become recognised as a so-called “wonder plant”. The excitement around spekboom’s carbon absorption properties has sparked the #spekboomchallenge which urges everyone to plant one of these low-maintenance leafy wonders. You’ve probably seen them around, or maybe you have a few of these indigenous wonders growing at home already… Either way, here’s why you should care about (and participate in) the #spekboomchallenge.
Spekboom (Portulacaria Afra) is a hardy, drought-resistant plant native to South Africa. These succulents thrive in dry conditions and can be found widely in the Little Karoo and Eastern Cape. They can however also deal with some extra loving, so they should be right at home in anyone’s garden in a sunny spot.
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Did you know that Spekboom leaves contain a lot of water? Hikers who run low on water often rely on them for extra hydration in moments of emergency. Pick the leaves and chew out the citrus-like juice 🌱😋. #PositiveChangeTogether . . . #Share #Knowledge #Spekboom #Facts #Learn #Garden #Greening #Planting #Tips #Tricks #Hiking #Outdoors #NewYear #Nature #NaturesGifts #CoCreate #Transform #UrbanGreeningProject
It’s beautiful, indigenous, edible, and water-wise… If that isn’t enough to convince you to grow one of these little plants, then here are a few more things you might like to know.
Spekboom is a climate hero
Believe it or not, spekboom absorbs the highest volume of carbon dioxide compared to any other plant! The humble plant, also known as “pork bush” or “elephant food” is said to absorb more carbon dioxide proportionately than the Amazon forest.
One hectare of spekboom can absorb and eliminate between four and 10 tonnes of carbon per year. So needless to say, this is a really meaningful step towards a carbon conscious world. Managing the earth’s carbon levels is key to dealing with, and slowing, climate change and instability.
Above all, everyone wants to help the environment at some level, but solutions can be complicated or expensive. Here’s where the #spekboomchallenge comes in: plant one or two (or a few) and by doing so, help manage our planet’s carbon levels. It’s that easy, really.
Spekboom is an effortless grower
Spekboom can live up to 200 years and are super easy to grow – so it’s minimum effort for maximum return. The #spekboomchallenge ensures that the difference you make today will affect the well-being of the planet for two centuries!
As succulents, they propagate easily too. Meaning that you could break a small branch off a spekboom and stick it in some soil and it’ll get to growing. Therefore, you could buy just one plant and keep propagating it into hundreds more plants. It’s that easy: pluck, stick, grow!
These wonder plants demand very little water and can adapt to their environment. You don’t need a particularly refined green thumb to grow these lush wonders. The plant has adapted to withhold its water and nutrients even during the hottest periods of the year. It can survive drought, frost, and fire.
It’s an edible wonder
Elephants, rhinos, and buck often eat spekboom in its natural habitat. But the leaves of the plants can be eaten by humans too. Spekboom is commonly munched by hikers who, when caught in the African heat, may need hydration. The leaves hold loads of moisture and can be used to effectively treat dehydration.
The leaves have a mild lemony flavour too. This attribute hasn’t gone unnoticed as some fine-dining restaurants garnish dishes with the circular little leaves.
You can also find sustainably-sourced spekboom in a selection of craft gins (which make great gifts with local flair). New Harbour Distillery makes a classic London Dry gin infused with spekboom.
Another local distillery to catch on is Porkbush Gin, which is set to launch any day now. Branded as making “SPEKtacular gin”, Porkbush aims to distil quality gin while simultaneously raising awareness about our very own wonder plant.
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After a great holiday the hard work must continue, but we couldn't be more excited! Stay posted for the official launch of Porkbush Gin™️ and don't forget to drop us an email if you would like to be one of the first to get your hands on a bottle of SPEKtacular gin. [email protected] #spekboom #gin #wonderplant #carbonfootprin #porkbush #greatlabyrinthofafrica #porkbushgin #craftgin #proudlysouthafrican #craft
A wonder plant and community helper
The Wonder Plant project aims to manage South Africa’s carbon levels while creating employment through spekboom growing.
The process is pretty simple and it works like this:
- This project provides local growers with seedlings
- The growers propagate and raise the seedlings to maturity
- Once big and strong, the project buys the plants back from the growers
- You buy from Wonder Plant, and the cycle repeats itself thereby creating jobs and cleaning our air
If you’d like to get involved with the #spekboomchallenge, you can buy a spekboom for your home or office, organise a planting day with friends or colleagues, or sponsor a spekboom if you don’t have the space for one. There’s no easier way to cultivate a cleaner, greener planet.
Compiled by Features Writer, Ashton Kirsten