Also known as Pork Bush or Elephant’s Food, this indigenous evergreen is an environmental miracle worker, with the potential to tackle carbon emissions like no other plant can.


Klein Karoo, South Africa – Boplaas has always been conservation-minded but now they’ve stepped up their drive and pledged to establish one million plants of the Portulacaria Afra succulent variety – commonly known as the spekboom – before 2025.

“The world is at a tipping point, and we should do everything in our power to avoid a global climate catastrophe. The spekboom that is indigenous to the Klein Karoo area is a carbon miracle worker. Spekboom, for the amount of water it uses, is the most efficient carbon sequester in the world.”

Spekboom is an incredible plant found in South Africa which is a marvellous drought tolerant, a phenomenal carbon sponge and an excellent soil binding flora that prevents soil erosion.

Hectare for hectare, Spekboom thicket is ten times more effective than the Amazon rainforest at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. One hectare of Spekboom can sequester between 4 and 10 tonnes of carbon per year. This makes it a powerful tool in the fight against climate change and the move towards a zero-carbon world.

According to The Spekboom Foundation, “Spekboom has enormous carbon-storing capabilities. Its capacity to offset harmful carbon emissions is compared to that of moist, subtropical forests. This remarkable plant is unique in that it stores solar energy to perform photosynthesis at night. This makes a spekboom thicket 10 times more effective per hectare at carbon fixing than any tropical rainforest.”

Their goal at Boplaas is to escalate plantation of the spekboom through strategic partnerships and as a wider aim to spread awareness. The Boplaas team want to encourage its cultivation in private gardens, on estates and on farms.

“It’s not an impossible task – the spekboom is great at adapting to its surroundings and can flourish almost anywhere. It makes wonderful hedges and beautiful shrubs; and, can be planted in fields, flowerbeds and pots.”

Boplaas has over 2 200 hectares of veld under conservation where the variety occurs naturally. In addition to planting more, this project will actively distribute spekboom cuttings from their Calitzdorp farm and their wine tasting room in Klein Brak River on the Garden Route.

“We will also distribute information on how further cuttings can be made and the best way to plant them. The spekboom requires very little maintenance and can survive with only the most minimal amounts of water.

If we can get 1 000 people to plant 100 plants, that’s 100 000 spekboom shrubs helping us fight global climate change.”

The Klein Karoo is amongst the most diverse and fragile biospheres in South Africa and uniquely home to the confluence of three distinct biomes: fynbos, Karoo succulent and thicket. The fynbos and Karoo succulent biomes are globally recognised as biodiversity hotspots, harbouring endemic and endangered species of fauna and flora found nowhere else on the planet. The unique diversity of this area is underlined by the fact that more species of fauna are found in a 120 km radius of Calitzdorp than in the whole of Europe.

Thirty years ago Carel realised that ‘it is only a matter of time before people will be paid to plant trees.’ This vision was the motivation for the establishment of the Rooiberg Conservancy and the rehabilitation of almost 2 200 ha of veld.

To follow their journey or get more information, click here.

Sources: Boplaas 
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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