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Chances are you’ve come across this inconspicuous delicate succulent, but dismissed it as a weed.

A weed it is in the sense that it thrives even in challenging environments, but there is much more to this sturdy miracle plant as some hail it.

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In comparison to Purslane: Spekboom #UrbanGardening

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Portulacaria Afra is known by many names:
Porkbush, Elephant’s Food (English); Spekboom. Olifantskos (Afrikaans); iNtelezi, isiDondwane, isAmbilane, iNdibili, isiCococo (isiZulu); iGqwanitsha (isiXhosa).

And many nicknames: elephant bush, dwarf jade, miniature jade or small leaf jade.

It is a species of the Portulacaceae, a family of flowering plants, also known as the purslane family.

 

5 surprising benefits of Portulacaria Afra

 

Superfood

The Southern African cuisine uses Spekboom in salads, soups, and stews to add a sour or tart flavour. Apparently a small sprig of Porkbush steamed with a tomato stew imparts a delicious flavour.

Elephant Bush contains a good amount of minerals: manganese, cobalt and magnesium. It also contains iodine and selenium in large quantities.

 

Healing

The Elephant Plant was traditionally used medicinally for a variety of minor ailments:

Traditional uses also include the increasing of breast milk by lactating mothers. The leaves are used to quench thirst, sucking a leaf is used to treat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke. Crushed leaves can be rubbed on blisters and corns on the feet to provide relief. The leaves are chewed as a treatment for sore throat and mouth infections while the astringent juice is used for soothing ailments of the skin such as pimples, rashes and insect stings. The juice is also used as an antiseptic and as a treatment for sunburn.

 

Repairing

Porkbush is being used beneficially in rehabilitating and restoring semi-arid and thicket habitats.

Due to its unique photosynthetic procedures, Spekboom can thrive in desserts just as well as it would in rain forests. This means that it can be planted anywhere in the world to help clean the environment and restore lands that are considered destroyed.

 

Restoring

Spekboom has become the poster plant for climate change because of its ability to absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than most other plants.

Its credentials are confirmed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute, with a stand of Porkbush having “the ability to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than an equal amount of deciduous forest” – like, for instance, the Amazon rain forest.

A Spekboom can remove up to 100 times more carbon from the atmosphere than a pine tree of similar size can do.

 

Very low maintenance

Elephant Bush has the ability to raise water to the surface near other plants. The plant can thrive in harsh conditions, hence its ability to withstand certain environmental hurdles. Spekboom is of great help in low maintenance gardens. It is highly drought-resistant and can survive on just +-350mm of water per year, making it the ideal choice for waterwise and eco-conscious gardeners.

Large plants survive the winter frosts by growing dense enough to provide their own natural cover. Drought-tolerant and fire-resistant, Spekboom will endure desert sun and heat, and can help fireproofing a garden. Cuttings root very easily in most potting media.

 

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