What You Need To Know About The #Spekboom Challenge


Have you heard about the #Spekboom Challenge? This viral internet challenge is set to make big waves on the local eco-conservation scene. Here’s all you need to know about this wonder plant and how you can do your part to clean up our environment one thicket at a time. 

#Spekboom challenge

What Is Spekboom?

Spekboom (Portulacaria Afra), also known as the Pork Bush or Elephant’s Food, is an indigenous South African plant making big waves on the local conservation scene. An incredibly hardy plant, Spekboom is mainly found in the Eastern Cape. Flourishing in semi-arid conditions, this plant can live for up to 200 years and grow as tall as five metres.

However, the most exciting attribute of this leafy succulent is its ability to gobble up carbon dioxide to an extent that far surpasses any other plant species yet seen. In fact, Spekboom thicket is thought to be up to 10 times more effective at carbon fixing than tropical rain forests. Absorbing up to 10 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare per year, Spekboom is undoubtedly the wonder plant of the year.

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Dwarf Jade Bonsai / Spekboom Bonsai Spekboom has the potential to mop up the excess CO2 responsible for climate change. Its immense carbon-storing capabilities and capacity to offset damaging carbon emissions are comparable to that of moist, subtropical forests. One hectare of Spekboom sequestering up to 4.2 tons of carbon per year! Spekboom doesn’t burn, making it a hardy plant to withstand veld fires and great material for firebreak hedges. It can withstand drought too – mainly due to its succulent nature, but also due to it’s unique ability to ‘shift gears’. While most plants require their stomata to be open during the daytime to absorb carbon dioxide, in dry conditions, the Spekboom can open its stomata at night instead, and close them again in the day to avoid loss of water. This slows down evaporation, and enables the Spekboom to grow faster during the day. During the wetter months, the Spekboom absorbs carbon dioxide during the day as normal. We can eat it too! Its little succulent leaves contain heaps of Vitamin C as well as a number of other minerals Follow 🌳🌿🐘 @dwarfjadebonsai Tag 🌳🌿🐘 #dwarfjadebonsai for a feature #spekboomchallenge #spekboom #dwarfjade #jade #elephantbush #portulacariaafra #portulacariabonsai #bonsai #bonsaitree #bonsailovers #succulentlove #succulentsofinstagram #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #tbt #igers #picoftheday #love #nature #lifeisgood #instapic #instadaily #instamood #bestoftheday #cute #climatechange #climate #globalwarming Credit 🌳📸 @indigo_child_111

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#Spekboom Challenge

In late 2019, the #Spekboom challenge overtook social media. Championed by farmers in the Eastern Cape, the challenge encourages all South Africans to grow their own Spekboom plants. Whether you uproot water guzzling plants from your garden in favour of the water-wise Spekboom or decorate your home with a few potted plants, the purpose of the #Spekboom challenge is to decrease carbon emissions across the country.

Fun fact: The Spekboom plant only requires 250 – 350ml of water per year to survive!

Growing your own Spekboom is as easy as breaking off a shoot of the plant and potting it in some well-drained soil. Ensure that your plant gets enough sunshine and it should maintain its bright green appearance for years to come.

However, even if you have a black thumb, this plant is almost impossible to kill. Spekboom can easily adapt to changing weather conditions, perfect for the unpredictable Joburg climate. In cool conditions, Spekboom photosynthesises like other plants, opening its stomata during the day to absorb carbon dioxide. During drier times, the plant has the ability to open its stomata at night, preventing water loss during the heat of the day. It is this nifty ability to absorb carbon dioxide even during the evenings that makes this plant so very special.

#Spekboom challenge

Do Your Bit For The Environment

On Sunday, 02 February 2020, the City of Cape Town announced that it would commit to planting 5000 Spekboom in April of this year to coincide with National Climate Change Month and World Earth Day (22 April). Partnering with the Newlands Nursery, the city has pledged to plant shoots of the wonder plant at various spaces across Cape Town, hopefully encouraging residents to take up the #Spekboom challenge themselves.

Now, we wouldn’t be good Joburgers if we didn’t aim to outdo our Cape competitors. Let’s band together in the run up to World Earth Day and take on the #Spekboom challenge. Here’s where you can get your hands on this green gem in the city:

Sandton City and Eastgate Shopping Centre

Two of Joburg’s most popular shopping destinations, Sandton City and Eastgate Shopping Centre, will be hosting the ‘Plant Your Love’ activation in February. This initiative is all about taking on the #Spekboom challenge and showing the earth a little love during Valentine’s month. Visit either of these malls for an informative talk by WWF on the wonders of the Spekboom plant between 13 – 15 February 2020. Plus, when you spend R350 or more at these malls you will receive your own Spekboom plant to take home.

Woolworths

Pop into your nearest Woolworths to get yourself a cute Spekboom pot plant. These are the perfect decor item for your home or city apartment, adding both a pop of natural colour and brain-boosting oxygen to your home.

Did you know that Spekboom is edible? A favourite snack of elephants, the leaves of this plant taste similar to zesty lemon and can be eaten by humans, too. Check out this mouthwatering Tomato and Spekboom Salad recipe to get started.

So there you have it, all you need to know about the humble Spekboom and its many fantastic properties. Are you ready to take on the #Spekboom challenge, Joburg?

And, if you are serious about transforming your garden into an eco-conscious ecosystem, check out our article on the best water-wise plants to add to your garden. 

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