The #SpekboomChallenge kicked off at the Boplaas Family Vineyards in Calitzdorp, Cape Town: the vineyard pledged to one million Spekbooms by 2025, citing the Spekboom’s incredible ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by acting as a ‘carbon sponge’, absorbing between four and 10 tonnes of carbon, per hectare, in a year. They have since encouraged South Africans to get on board by planting Spekbooms and posting a photograph to social media with the hashtag: #SpekboomChallenge.

The humble Spekboom (Portuclaraia afra), which is exquisite when it flowers, can live up to 200 years and is relatively easy to plant – simply break a piece off, and stick it in the ground in a sunny area. It responds well to pruning and makes a hardy hedge. The low-maintenance plant can survive on as little as 250-350mm of water and has a photosynthetic mechanism that allows it to adapt to all weather conditions. The leaves are also edible, and have been used to treat exhaustion and dehydration.

Earlier this month our Facilities, Maintenance and Environmental Manager Gary McKenzie, Landscaping Supervisor Michael Riley and our Servest Landscaping team planted a few Spekboom seedlings along Simbithi Drive. As the team got to work, McKenzie shared a few interesting statistics on the succulent plant. “It may look like an ordinary, small-leaved plant but many have referred to it as a ‘miracle’ plant. Some communities use it for medicinal purposes, and in the wild it is favoured by elephants, kudu and black rhino for its nutrient qualities. The most impressive, however, is the Spekboom’s ability to improve the quality of the air we breathe, and store solar energy to perform photosynthesis at night. The Spekboom foundation has stated that one Spekboom thicket is 10 times for effective, per hectare, at carbon fixing than any typical rainforest. That’s amazing!”

General Manager, Malcolm Samuel, commended the Environmental team for their continued efforts to keep the environment healthy within Simbithi’s boundaries, and beyond. He also issued a challenge to our neighbouring estates on the North Coast to join the #SpekboomChallenge. “We have some Spekboom seedlings that we have made available to our community, so we can enjoy the benefits of this wonder plant within the Estate. But, we would love to see this expand along the North Coast, and so have invited our neighbours to join us in making our environment healthier, and stronger. This is in line with Simbithi’s eco-ethos, and our goal to effect change in our surrounding communities.”

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