Spekboom – The Greta Thunberg of plant life?
Greta Thunberg inspired millions of people worldwide by challenging the United Nation’s environmental policies and inactivity in the fight against climate change. She showed that you are never too young or too old to make a monumental impact and change the world for the better.
The reality is that the earth is getting warmer, largely due to the industrial revolution which began around 200 years ago, through deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels (like coal) to advance humankind as a species. Truth be told, we have fantastic cars, amazing buildings, mobile phones, Netflix, conveniently packaged food and World of Warcraft, but at what cost?
Cape Town was nearing day-zero not too long ago due to a persistent drought that left the dam levels alarmingly low. Some parts of South Africa are still going through a drought that is impacting hugely on the agricultural sector, making food more unaffordable to the majority and thinning the already slender economic growth.
There is a belief that all of these disasters are happening as a result of global warming, which is the increase in the earth’s atmospheric temperature. Unlike Greta, we can’t all sail to New York or ride on a train in protest of global warming and inaction from governments. However, all is not lost, what we can do right now in South Africa is to plant our indigenous superhero called the “SPEKBOOM”.
Portulacaria Afra (for those Latin speakers out there) commonly known as Spekboom, which translates from Afrikaans into “bacon bush”. It is a soft-wooded, semi ever-green upright shrub, with closely distributed soft green round pads. The succulent plant is native to the Albany Thickets, a woodland eco-region known as the Noorsveld in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa and is a common food for elephants and other large mammals, birds and pollinating insects. A fully grown plant is usually around 2.5m to 4.5m tall.
What makes it even more special is that it is abundant and easy to grow. It requires lots of sunshine and can be watered once a week to keep it healthy and growing. This amazing plant is very resilient, it can live up to 200 years and survive frost, drought, and fire. Besides being edible and high in nutrients, the superpower of the Spekboom is its ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere and convert it into plant tissue. This is the conversion process of inorganic carbon to organic compounds by living organisms known as photosynthesis. Spekboom absorbs sunlight during the day, stores it in its leaves and during the night can continue with photosynthesis and this is not something that most plants can do.
Just how good is the Spekboom at this? On average, a fully grown Spekboom can sequestrate 4.0kg -8.0kg of carbon dioxide per year. That means Spekboom is about 100 times more effective at reducing carbon than a pine tree.
With environmental sustainability being at the heart of Khuthaza Foundation’s purpose, we believe that we have to spread not only the word of this awesome plant but to also make sure that with your help we can spread the plant population. On the 22nd of February 2020 (22-02-2020), our objective will be to plant 2020 of these miracle workers and we encourage you to join us. For a donation of R10, we will supply you with a Spekboom, a hole in the ground and lots of fun and friends at Robyn Park along the Klein Jukskei River, and a certificate of your achievement. Don’t miss out on your chance to help our species survive. Contact us now and help save the earth.
Accessed: 17 February 2020.