Pork Bush or as it is more commonly known by its Afrikaans name, Spekboom (Portulacaria afra), is simply fabulous stuff. Not only is it Proudly South African but it is also a water-wise plant that can manage on less than a liter of water a year. Not that I’d want to test this out – and thankfully in Pretoria we have pretty good rains at this time of the year (summer).
Another claim to fame is the fact that it helps fight air pollution by absorbing carbon out of the air. Considerably more so than normal plants do – in fact it is said that one hectare of Spekboom can capture four tons of carbon in a year.
Pretty darn amazing!
Cuttings root rather easily too – a small section cut off just below the node (bottom leaves then removed) and planted – and watered well for the first few days too – will grow quickly.
This video I found on the internet carefully shows how to go about growing a cutting. Although I must mention that I’ve rescued many a broken-off bit and have unceremoniously plonked them in pots and receptacles all over our garden. These are all growing perfectly well despite their casual introduction to a different spot of earth.
Whilst our teensy garden might get the occasional drink of fertiliser – I do admit – to the mirth of my family – to chatting to our plants on a very regular basis. The results are rewarding.
This amazing plant can reach anywhere from 2.5 to 4.5 metres in height (hence being called a “boom” which means tree in English).
The one we have growing the garden is currently only a metre high. It has taken a few years to reach this height, but that’s probably because it got lost under a runaway daisy bush for a year or so!
Whilst elephants in the Eastern Cape consider this little succulent a scrumptious snack – it is perfectly edible for humans too. The tangy leaves can be used in soups and salads.
Because it has great thirst quenching characteristics, the fat juicy leaves can be sucked to deal with over-exhaustion and dehydration if you get caught short out on a hike.
There are also tales about chewing the leaves to promote the flow of breast milk – but I’m done with having babies so cannot say whether this is true or not.
Poultices made out of the leaves can be applied to acne, blisters, corns, insect bites, sore feet and sunburn.
It has also been said that chewing Spekboom leaves several times a day can successfully treat high blood sugar levels.
All in all – a lovely green medicine chest in a pot.
Medicinal info garnered from The Herb Nursery.