plant of the month Spekboom

Portulaca Afra – The incredible Spekboom! (also known as Pork Bush, Elephant’s food or iNtelezi)

 Did you know:

  • Spekboom helps to remove Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere, acting like a CO2 sponge.A single hectare of Spekboom cab absorb between 4 to 10 tonnes of CO2 annually, using the Carbon to produce plant tissue and produce Oxygen.
    This incredible plant is capable of two types of photo synthesis making it more efficient per hectare than rain forest at removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • The leaves are edible and packed with vitamin C. The taste of the leaves changes during the course of the day with the leaves being more acid in the heat of the day and less so at sunrise and sunset.
    It’s a perfect addition to a salad, and can be used as a infusion in an ice cold Gin and Tonic (now there’s a great use!)
  • The plant has several traditional medicinal uses, including:
    Sucking a leaf to quench thirst, treat exhaustion, dehydration and heatstroke.
    Using crushed leaves to provide relief for blisters.
    Chewing leaves to treat a sore throat and mouth infections.
  • It is water wise and incredibly low maintenance, being able to survive on 250-350mm of water per year.
    It’s incredibly resilient and excellent at binding soil to prevent soil erosion.
  • It can live up to 200 years!

  • Spekboom is easy to propagate from cuttings – Simply allow the clean edge of the cutting to dry out for a few days and plant directly into well drained soil. Don’t over water to prevent rot.
    Growing 2 to 5 m in height, it may be planted closely together and clipped to form a hedge, used as an ornamental succulent treat, or planted for practical purposes to keep soil erosion in check.
    It can even be grown as a container plant and makes a great bonsai!

    The pant occurs naturally in karroid (semi-desert) areas and bushveld, growing prolifically in the Eastern Cape.
    With circular leaves which are either bright green or pale grey in colour, with a glossy red-brown trunk, the hardy plant is a great addition to any garden, bearing masses of soft pink flowers which attract insects and in turn birdlife.