Spekboom is good for: oxygen and health benefits

South Africa’s miracle plant

The Spekboom is a nice-looking, indigenous to South Africa, drought-hardy plant. Spekboom is good for:

Spekboom is good for growing a windbreak or privacy hedge. These plants are very easy to shape when a box hedge is desired.

  • Spekboom is known for its incredible carbon-storing capabilities and
  • many health benefits.
  • It is one of but a few plants that release oxygen during day and night and as Spekboom creates clean air – it is a fantastic indoor plant
  • It promotes soil binding flora, which helps prevent erosion.
  • Another benefit of the Spekboom is being edible. The plant offers many health reasons and it is an eady-to-grow food source.
    This sprawling shrub, or small tree, naturally grows in the rocky areas of the bushveld and semi-desert regions. Bees and butterflies love its masses of soft pink nectar-rich flowers, which is followed with small papery three-winged fruits.

Indigenous people use the plant for medicinal and domestic purposes, including:

  • Spekboom has skin soothing properties and treats ailments like rashes, insect stings, sunburn or blisters with crushed leaf juice.
  • Plant parts treat heatstroke and thirst by sucking a leaf or throat and mouth infections by chewing leaves.
  • The stems are good building material when dried and used as thatch for roofing of the huts/homes.
  • Mozambican breastfeeding mothers believe these leaves help increasing their milk production by eating the leaves.
  • The leaves are best eaten in the mornings while still sweet. The succulent leaves turn more sour and bitter with the climbing sun.

Most importantly: Comparing the Amazon forest hectare for hectare with a Spekboom thicket and Spekboom wins at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Ten times over. 5 Hectares of Spekboom can remove 20 – 50 tonnes of carbon per year.

2020 kicked off for South Africans with this Spekboom Challenge:
A) plant 10 spekboom trees,
B) share and post it on Social Media as #spekboomchallenge and
C) challenge a friend to do the same. (Gardening Eden wants to up this challenge to 20 spekboom trees in 2020 – add #20spekboomchallenge to your share)
Because of this challenge, thousands of spekboom trees have since been planted and in some cases, the challenge amount has grown to 10 plants per person (or more). Which is great since a single mature spekboom can remove 8.5kg of carbon a year. Keep in mind that typically 9.18 tons of carbon emissions per person are released from vehicles alone.

More good news…
Stellenbosch – outside Cape Town, South Africa – will soon host the largest African labyrinth with 13 circuits – consisting of spekboom trees. The garden diameter will be 220m and visible far from above.
It will be called “The Great Labyrinth of Africa” and be built at the Stellenbosch Bridge Smart City development.
“If we don’t regress carbon emissions by 2025, we’ll go past the tipping point and all of humanity will face extinction,” said Peter Shrimpton, Chief executive of the Heart Capital and founder of the Great Labyrinth Project .

The Labyrinth of the Chartres Cathedral in France is the design that the “The Great Labyrinth of Africa” is based on.
Image: Smithsonian Magazine


Propagating is easily done from cuttings in spring, summer and autumn. Keep them dry-moist and use river sand to root in – and ensure your final soil is well-draining. These plants are quite fast-growing and will not need, but respond, to compost and water. Seeing that this succulent needs very little to thrive – growing as many as possible is ideal. It is ideal for windy areas as a windbreak. They can be planted in dry desert or coastal gardens.

Spekboom is the best plant for the beginner gardener because it needs very little attention. As long as you elliminate poor drainage and overwatering, you can’t really get it wrong. Since this anazing plant is a greenhouse hero, it shouldbe on every balcony and windowsill, and we believe all traffic islands and highways should be hedge-planted with it too.

Prairies are used for excellent pest control

Prairie gardens can be described as natural, native gardens. They are pleasing to look at because they include flowers, grassy textures and you will always see wildlife. Subconsciously, the human eye understands that it is looking at a healthy ecosystem and that these plants grow where they belong. Prairies are used for organic, natural pest control because its design attracts, deters and takes care of every possible problem known to that area.

To get a prairie right, you have to ideally copy what grows there naturally.

The latest trend in organic, perma-cultural, regenerative and even mono-crop farming includes environmentally friendly pest-control methods – which are in fact as old as the hills. Biological pest control methods involve planting wild flower strips (let’s call them bug highways) around their crops. The plants attract pollinators and beneficial insects to take care of pests. Herbs are especially successful in both attracting the right insects and yet deterring pests. Thus rendering the use of pesticides useless. As pesticides impact on bees negatively (to name one terrible side effect), planting prairies only makes sense.

Check out this list of pollinator-attracting plants https://gardeningeden.net/2019/10/30/bee-gardening/ and the companion planting list will show plant combinations that deter pests and what https://gardeningeden.net/2019/10/28/companion-planting/

A good tip is to plant 1 third grasses and 2 thirds perennial flowers. These plants should be planted in clumps of 7 each (i.e 7 grasses next to 7 flowers of one kind and also 7 of another – and repeat as you i.e plant your border around the veggie patch). Include bulbs for your under-planting and you will have a great-looking mini-prairie in no time. Look at your nearest botanical garden. What mid-size flowering perennials and ornamental grasses did they include there? Those are good choices to go on the list. Make sure your soil is well draining and fertile by adding compost and mulch. Adopt no-dig principles and let the mycorrhizal fungi settle.

Prairies are used for their many benefits: mainly-indigenous prairie gardens are mostly maintenance-free, attractive and highly beneficial in terms of inviting back wildlife and restoring ecosystems. They act as mega supermarkets to pollinators and birds, reptiles and other critters that was part of the once natural balance.

Indigenous wildflowers, grasses and bulbs are conditioned to thrive where they are from and thus have lower water and feeding requirements, but higher resistance to disease and pests. They cause soil improvement, prevention of erosion plus higher yields of food crops.

Prairies are used for farming and food gardens where natural methods are practiced. Purely indigenous is not where the focus should be but rather everyone lives by the golden rule of diversity above all else. If great diversity can be achieved through indigenous choices, that is of course best and also the main idea behind permaculture. We can only benefit by honoring this all-inclusive method, and our planet’s health will be restored in no time.