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Spekboom: The so-called “miracle plant”

If you’re reading this then it’s likely that you’ve just made your first Sol’s order, or you’re a general Spekboom enthusiast.

So what’s all the fuss about with this trendy indigenous succulent? We’ll quickly lay down a few of the basics & benefits of Spekboom, including a video tutorial on how to plant your own at home.

An intro to Spekboom

A resilient & versatile succulent plant 

Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) is a soft-wooded, semi-evergreen shrub that is regarded as a keystone species because of its status as the dominant species within the subtropical thicket biome – both in terms of cover and relative abundance. Some experts have dubbed it “a miracle plant.” 

Spekboom shrubs are able to cope with huge conditional variation and continue to provide steady forage even through periods of drought. Under wet conditions, they utilize the same system deployed by plants in the rainforest; in drought times, Spekboom switches to a system used by desert plants like cacti. Talk about improvisation. And its versatility isn’t just limited to climate, but also to the numerous forms, shapes and sizes it can take. Spekboom can be grown as a hedge, bonsai, large bush or groundcover. 

The increasing popularity of succulents 

Succulents are popular for a number of reasons, not least of which their enormous aesthetic appeal, but also the fact that they require minimal maintenance.  We all know the feeling of unwillingly killing a plant despite our best efforts to nurture and cherish it to fruition.  

What does Spekboom look like?

The Spekboom has tiny round green leaves and typically reddish/lilac stems. Unfortunately for pork lovers, it doesn’t actually produce bacon.

Growing Spekboom at home

Without being too obvious about the elephant in the room, we’ve all spent abnormal amounts of time at home in the last year. Everyone has adjusted to a “new normal” in their own ways. Some of us are privileged enough to have gardens that provided invaluable sanctuary. But even if you’re living the one-bedroom apartment life, indoor plants make the world of difference for peace of mind and aesthetic enhancement.  Having Spekboom at home is like owning your own mini-filtration system and planting it is super simple.

But how? Without dumbing it down too much, Spekboom is really easy to propagate even for reluctant gardeners. It’s as simple as drying out a few cuttings and putting them into some soil. 

Check out our charming video that proves that planting spekboom is an activity for people of all ages and aptitude levels in the garden.

Why Spekboom?

Protecting local flora & fauna

We want to invite you to embark on a journey of nature-conscious thinking with us at our inception. The local flora & fauna all around us is something to marvel at daily but to continue to have that luxury, small & gradual sacrifices must be made. 

Combating climate change

We’re also fully committed to taking positive steps towards turning the tide against climate change. Offsetting our collective carbon footprint as a species is one proactive way in which we can move in that direction. 

Benefits

  • Spekboom can root from cuttings even in degraded soils which reach 70°C in summer and receive no rain for several months. 
  • This wondrous succulent is well-adapted to dry conditions, making it well-suited to South African gardens and areas facing serious water constraints. 
  • Spekboom helps to combat climate change and air pollution.
  • The Spekboom is widely praised for its carbon-sequestration abilities, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by acting as a sponge.
  • In turn, it improves the quality of the air that we breathe. 

Fun Facts

  • Spekboom can absorb between four to ten tonnes of carbon per hectare. 
  • The Afrikaans word spekboom directly translates to ‘bacon tree’, which is how one of its nicknames ‘porkbush’ came to be.
  • Elephants are infamously partial to eating marula fruit, but Spekboom aka Elephant Bush is another of their favourite snacks.  
  • Spekboom plants only need around 250-350ml of water annually for survival.

Now that you know a little bit more about this special succulent we hope that you’ll join us in growing your own. You certainly don’t need to have green thumbs to do so, just a relatively green approach to the present and foreseeable future, and an ability to see the wood for the trees. 

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