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Resilient, adaptable, environmentally friendly Spekboom

Explore the wonders of spekboom (Portulacaria afra), also known as elephant bush, dwarf jade, and porkbush.

Interesting Facts

Spekboom is a super-succulent that absorbs up to 10 times more pollution than any other plant. This incredible plant acts like a carbon sponge, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and producing oxygen. Spekboom can absorb between four and ten tonnes of carbon per hectare, making it a vital tool in fighting climate change.

Approximately 120 spekboom plants can completely offset one person’s carbon footprint.

Not only is spekboom beneficial to the environment, but it’s also delicious! Its edible leaves are rich in manganese, cobalt, magnesium, Vitamin C, iodine, and selenium. Enjoy it in salads, sauces and smoothies. It also makes a great treat for animals, both in the home and in the wild.

Spekboom is indigenous to South Africa, specifically to the Eastern Cape – although it grows well anywhere. It’s really easy to plant… simply break off a piece and stick it in the ground in a sunny spot. 

In late winter and spring, it blooms with beautiful pink flowers.

Spekboom is water-wise and easy to grow, surviving on as little as 250 to 350 mm of water per year. Its adaptability to various weather conditions, from drought to frost, makes it an excellent choice for any garden.

Caring for your Spekboom

Spekboom makes for a low-maintenance house or garden plant. Place it in bright indirect light and grow it in a well-draining potting medium.

Prune your spekboom to alter its shape or maintain its size. Use sterilised scissors or pruners to avoid spreading disease pathogens.

Water your spekboom well during spring and summer, allowing the soil to almost dry out between drinks. Be cautious not to over-water – signs of this include swollen, yellowish leaves.

While fertilisation is not necessary, be sure to use good quality aerated succulent soil for optimal growth.

Spekboom Recipes

Here are some delicious treats that you can make using spekbooom in your kitchen.

Prep time: 1 hour 30 minutes



  • 100g diced cucumber
  • 50g spekboom leaves
  • 50g diced white onion
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • ¼ cup white/ red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup water – depending on desired consistency


  • Sliced French loaf
  • ¼ cup good quality ricotta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. Place the diced cucumber, spekboom and onion in a colander with the salt, and allow to rest for 30min.
  2. Rinse and then gently squeeze out excess moisture.
  3. In a saucepan, combine the garlic, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard seeds and fennel seeds and bring to a simmer, stirring continuously.
  4. Once all the sugar is dissolved, lower the heat and add the cucumber, spekboom and onion and cook for 10 minutes, stirring continuously.
  5. Once the onion and spekboom are soft and cooked through, lightly mash the mixture to form a more relish consistency.
  6. Allow to cool completely before storing and serving.
  7. Serve with crisp bread and fresh ricotta. Add a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt for an extra flavour punch.
  8. Enjoy with a glass of De Grendel Viognier.

(Watch the process on YouTube.)

(Via De Grendel Estate and Restaurant)



  • 1 cup fresh leaves, removed from stem and rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped OR use 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup almonds or cashews
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp parmesan cheese (replace with nutritional yeast for vegans)
  • 1 squeeze lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Blend all ingredients together using a food processor, liquidiser, coffee grinder or pestle and mortar.
  • If you are not serving it immediately, place in a bowl and cover with a small amount of olive oil to prevent browning.

(Via Barefoot Life)


  • 2-and-a-half frozen bananas
  • Half cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup spekboom
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup aloe vera juice
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, skinned


  • Blend thoroughly and enjoy over ice

(Via Getaway Magazine)

Spekboom for a cause

The epic ERP Pot Plant campaign has sourced its spekboom from the Owl Rescue Centre, an organisation dedicated to protecting and rehabilitating owls in Southern Africa.

Join us in our mission to promote sustainability, culinary delight and environmental conservation. Let’s grow together for a greener tomorrow.

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