Why you should plant a spekboom

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Spekboom leaves wikimedia commons
Spekboom foliage. photo Wikimedia Commons

Solar power spekboom

Most plants, as with the majority of trail runners, stop functioning when the sun departs, and make the most of the darker time to rest and recover from the day’s activities.

But not every plant.

The unassuming spekboom (Portulacaria afra) is unique in that it stores solar energy to photosynthesise at night. This makes a spekboom thicket 10 times more effective per hectare at carbon fixing than a tropical rainforest.

Jessica Trollip, 2015 Baviaansklof Trail Run winner, in her glorious Spekboom wreath.
Jessica Trollip, 2015 Baviaanskloof Trail Run winner. photo Craig Muller

Wotta grower!

This wonderful living thing does not need formal planting. A broken branch tossed onto the ground by a browsing elephant will grow.

Three-time winner of the Baviaanskloof Trail Run, SanMari Woithe, dropped her winner’s spekboom crown onto a flowerbed and the eager clean-air fighter sprouted roots and settled in.

Grow spekboom anywhere

Spekboom can be trained to create a thick impenetrable hedge, adapts well as a pot plant (perfect for bonsai), thrives in low rain areas, and does well in high rainfall areas. Talk about a plant for the planet.

Food and fuel

Elephants are not the only ones who enjoy it. The leaves are perfectly safe to eat for humans. Chew the leaves if you find yourself on a trail and low on water.

Add the leaves to a salad, or make a spekboom, artichoke, and chorizo frittata to sample this multi-tasking plant.

Everyone should have one

If you have not got a plant yet, ask a Baviaanskloof Trail Run finisher for a cutting, because every runner receives a tree ready for planting.

This article was printed in TRAIL magazine issue 19, on page 32.

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