Wholesale Nursery | Landscape Nursery

Spekboom (Portulacaria Afra)
Spekboom (or Portulacaria Afra) are indigenous to specific areas of the summer rainfall region of South Africa and Namibia, with origins in the Eastern Cape.

Living up to 200 years, this succulent plant has a photosynthetic mechanism that allows it to adapt to semi-arid or rainforest like conditions. This fleshy leafed, edible, sour tasting succulent is sometimes referred to as 'elephants delicacy', 'pork bush' or 'dwarf jade plant'. It is a favourite food choice for elephants, black rhino, kudu, nyala, bushbuck. etc. The Afrikaans word 'spek' directly translates to 'pork bush'.

Spekboom is unique, in that it stores solar energy during the day and performs photosynthesis at night, producing food for the plant and releasing OXYGEN into the atmosphere. Most plants use only one type of photosynthesis, while spekboom uses two of the three types of photosynthesis.

The shrub can grow two to five metres tall and can survive extremely dry conditions, frost and fires and thrives in sub-tropical areas of South Africa.

Benefits of Spekboom in your Garden

  • Waterwise, low maintenance, easy grower
  • Plantings of spekboom improve soil aeration and drainage
  • Survives in drought conditions
  • Frost resistant
  • Makes a great hedge short or tall
  • Good container plant.  Large or small (e.g. bonsai)
  • As a small tree (up to 5m in some areas)

Benefits of Spekboom to Humans

  • Spekboom are large carbon sponges improving the QUALITY OF AIR
  • Effectively REMOVE CARBON DIOXIDE from the atmosphere and turning it into plant matter, thereby releasing much needed OXYGEN back into the atmosphere
  • Has high levels of Vitamin C. Interestingly, the sour tasting leaves becomes less acidic towards the evening
  • The fleshy leaves provide a food source during times of DROUGHT and FAMINE (man and animals)
  • Can be used in salads and stews
  • The fleshy leaves can quench thirst, treat exhaustion, dehydration and sunstroke
  • Juiced leaves can be used as an ANTISEPTIC for skin ailments and mouth infections
  • Breast feeding women in Mocambique chew the leaves to increase milk supply
  • Dried stems are used to thatch huts/home

In March 2019, an Getaway article claimed that spekboom is 'more effective than the Amazon rainforest at sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere'. It also quoted The Spekboom Foundation of South Africa as saying that spekboom 'is ten times more effective per hectare at carbon fixing than any tropical than any tropical rainforest.'

Spekboom 'is effective at sequestering carbon, but only within its natural habitat' [Kelly Vlieghe C4  Solutions]. Therefore, caution should be taken in suggesting that rapidly disappearing tropical rainforests and their threatened ecosytems can be effectively replaced with vast plantings of spekboom. Fragile, threatened ecosystems could potentially be outcompeted if vast plantations of spekboom are used to restore degraded ecosystems, in arid and semi-arid regions in Southern Africa, where it is does not naturally grow. (For example, the habitats of critically endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, where rare flora could be outcompeted.)
Whatever the hype around the 'Spekboom Challenge', in South Africa, there can be no doubt that planting SPEKBOOM in YOUR gardens to complement other indigenous flora and ornamentals can only bring you JOY, GOOD HEALTH and help reduce YOUR carbon footprint.