The #spekboomchallenge invites every South African to plant at least ten of these plants a year to eliminate their carbon footprint and to help clean our air. If you don’t have space to plant them, donate them to schools, retirement homes, churches and anywhere else that they need assistance.
According to Bedfordview based nursery Eckards, Portulacaria is better known as spekboom in South Africa because they have fat (as in ‘spek vet’) little leaves and are sometimes referred to as the ‘Pork Bush’ as a direct translation. These plants are also known as the Elephant Bush from their natural habitat in the Eastern Cape, where they are a staple food source for the elephants of the Addo Park. Their leaves are small, rounded, green to yellowish and succulent, held on red stems perfect to grow as a water-wise shrub or even as a bonsai subject.
Here’s more information from Eckards on these wonder plants:
If left to grow, the spekboom can become a small tree of around 2 metres, which is more a shrub size than a tree, but it will take many years to do that. Eckards recommends planting your spekboom as a medium-size shrub where they get sun to half-day sun and clip them to shape and keep them compact. They will make a great small hedge along a border or along a boundary wall.
Spekboom are so versatile in the garden and can fill a dry and arid spot. They adapt to any garden environment – whether it is a wild and indigenous garden or a tailored garden with clipped hedges and formal lines.
Look for different colours of spekboom
Towards the end of spring, they get small pink flowers that cover the tips. The flowers attract a host of beneficial insects which add to their warrior status. The leaves are packed with vitamin C. The acidic taste makes them a fun addition to a summer salad or in a winter stew. They are also used in traditional medicine to treat dehydration and heatstroke.
The sap from the leaves can also be used to treat skin ailments and provide relief for blisters and sunburn. Findings suggest that up to four tons of carbon a year would be captured by each hectare of these plants. Every garden should have one of these warrior plants.
Eastgate Shopping Centre recently hosted the ‘Plant Your Love’ activation from 13–15 February 2020. This initiative is all about showing the earth a little love during Valentine’s month. They featured informative talks by WWF on the wonders of the spekboom.