5000 Spekboom trees to be planted

Image via: @LaMottewine Twitter

Spekboom Challenge: City of Cape Town to grow 5 000 trees

The Spekboom tree has the ability to absorb more carbon dioxide than any other plant.

5000 Spekboom trees to be planted

Image via: @LaMottewine Twitter

The City’s Recreation and Parks Department are expected to participate in the Spekboom Challenge with the Newlands Nursery in Cape Town and grow more than 5 000 Spekboom trees that will later be distributed for planting during Climate Change Month in April 2020.

The purpose of this initiative is to increase awareness about the importance of trees in the urban environment. Also known as the Pork Bush or Elephant’s Food, the Spekboom has the ability to absorb more carbon dioxide than any other plant.


The Spekboom Challenge is a social media drive, motivating all South Africans to plant at least 10 spekboom plants each in 2020.

“Planting trees is a vital part of the efforts by the City’s Recreation and Parks Department for Cape Town to be recognised as an Urban Forest. Our participation in the Spekboom Challenge will not only motivate communities to participate but will also be a catalyst in our drive to Urban Forest recognition,” said Member for Community Services and Health Councillor Zahid Badroodien.

“The spekboom shoots will be planted at area-based events across the city on World Earth Day on April 22, 2020. We hope this will encourage residents to also get involved in tree planting and maintenance,” added Badroodien.

Newlands Nursery to host Spekboom demonstrations 

The City’s Newlands nursery will be open to the public on Wednesday 26 February 2020, from 10:00 to 12:00. 

  • Visitors will have the opportunity to join a tour of the amazing facility;
  • Demonstrations will be given on how to grow your own spekboom;
  • Personnel will share information about the species best suited to Cape Town’s climate;
  • Creating awareness about ways that people intentionally and unintentionally damage invaluable trees will also form part of the programme.

The Newlands Nursery provides the City with large trees and vegetative material for greening. They are also responsible for ensuring that tree stock and different types of species are available, as determined by a five-year tree plan.

Visitors to the nursery will be treated on the diversity of trees that are available for planting. It may also be interesting to see the stock of water-wise species introduced during the drought which is now part of the City’s stock, such as aloes, other succulents and groundcovers. A bonsai garden can also be visited on request.

The nursery has approximately 40 000 plants in stock to the value of R10 million. In addition to growing and greening, the nursery also provides decor for special events such as the Cape Town Jazz Festival, Suidoosterfees, switching on of the Festive Lights and Mayoral events.

“I encourage residents to participate in the Spekboom Challenge. It’s an opportunity for learners, schools, community groups and educational groups to be part of a great initiative. By planting a Spekboom you invest in a clean environment and participate in conserving and protecting nature in an urban context. Let us all do our part and plant a spekboom,” added Badroodien.

Image via: City of Cape Town

Five things you probably didn’t know about the Spekboom plant

According to Samara.co.za, these are the five things you probably didn’t know about the Spekboom plant: 

1. Proudly South African

It is found predominantly in the Eastern Cape, and especially in the semi-arid Karoo region, where growing conditions are ideal for this resilient plant. Thriving in poor soils, it tolerates both drought and frost.

2. One of the best carbon sequestrators in the world 

Spekboom thicket is ten times more effective than the Amazon rainforest at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. One hectare of Spekboom can sequester between four and 10 tonnes of carbon per year. This makes it a powerful tool in the fight against climate change and the move towards a zero-carbon world.

3. Spekboom can live up to 200 years 

And Spekboom trees can grow as tall as five metres. Prior to the advent of large-scale livestock farming, some areas of the Eastern Cape had Spekboom forests so thick that it was said a grown human could walk across the top as if walking on a carpet. 

4. Spekboom can easily adapt to their surroundings 

In the wet, cool months, Spekboom photosynthesises like other plants, opens its stomata during the day to absorb carbon dioxide. During drier times, the plant has the ability to open its stomata at night in order to prevent water loss during the heat of the day.

5. Edible with high nutritional value 

It is a favoured food of black rhinos, elephants and kudus. The good news is that we can eat it too. With a taste similar to lemon, Spekboom leaves are juicy and full of moisture, making them the perfect ‘pick-me-up’ during a long day’s hiking in the arid Karoo. Popular Cape Town restaurants like the Pot Luck Club use this succulent as accents to their beautifully crafted dishes.