Spekboom: climate saviour or just a succulent story?

WONDER PLANT?

Spekboom: climate saviour or just a succulent story?

The “miracle plant” spekboom is a darling of the local and international media. But can we really save the planet with this sexy succulent plant? asks PIETER BOTHA.

THE spekboom has become a star on the international climate change stage. It is the Greta Thunberg of the plant world and punted as a silver bullet for our carbon troubles.

This cute indigenous succulent plant (Portulacaria afra) is a darling of the local and international media. It grows easily and is drought tolerant. People are planting it all over the place because of its apparently unsurpassed ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “Accept the #spekboomchallenge: plant a spekboom and do your part to fight climate change” is the chorus on social media.

It’s easy – just pick a cutting, put it in the ground, add some water and, hey presto, you have a brand new baby spekboom. Big planting plans are being made by city councils, businesses, schools and NGOs. The City of Cape Town wants to plant 100,000 spekboom, a wine farm in the Little Karoo 1 million and outside Stellenbosch a great spekboom labyrinth is being laid out in fynbos country...

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