Botanical Name Portulacaria afra Common Names Spekboom, Porkbush, Elephants Foot, iNtelezi, isiDondwane, isAmbilane, iNdibili, isiCoco, iGqwnitsha


An attractive, evergreen succulent or small tree that can reach 2 - 5 m in height. It has small, round, succulent leaves and red stems. Small, star-shaped, pink flowers are borne en masse from late winter to spring. They are a rich source of nectar for many insects, which in-turn attracts insectivorous birds


Forms part of the Subtropical thicket of the warm eastern areas of the country, from the Eastern Cape northwards into KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, Mpumalanga and the Northern Province and rocky areas of dry Succulent Karoo Thicket and Bushveld.


The current level of atmospheric carbon dioxide exceeds levels not reached for the past 420 000 years. The main factor driving the change in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels being anthropogenic activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and land use changes. This increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide in turn, is changing the world’s climate. Predicted impacts of global change for South Africa could have dire consequences for biodiversity, with transformed habitats such as Subtropical Thicket to be most affected.


Spekboom can potentially play a role in thicket restoration because it can easily be grown from cuttings and has an unusual ability to fluctuate between crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM, whereby plants reduce water losses by absorbing carbon dioxide at night) and C3 photosynthetic pathways which can result in enhanced productivity in semi-arid environments. Studies have proven carbon storage to be around 4.2 tonnes per hectare per year. Further to its carbon habit, the large spreading shrub covers and shades the soil from the harmful rays of the sun, creating a favourable environment for insects and other wildlife to inhabit, while the dead organic material which accumulates under the bushes has an enriching effect on the soil. This improves the soil’s water-holding capacity further benefitting other plants, animals and micro-organisms in the area.


On the Chandelier Game Reserve & Private Eco Estate, we believe in sustainable development and it is our strive to always respect nature to the fullest. Nature holds us responsible for sustainable utilization of what she has to offer. In our "hand in hand with nature" projects we only make use of Eco Friendly programs.

Chandelier initiated its own “Spekboom Nursery” at the Lodge and we have already planted thousands of the so-called "Spekboom" or "Elephant’s Feed" on the almost 3300ha Private Game Reserve. The very first plantations started in the existing erosion dongas, stopping the process with great success.

Furthermore, the rehabilitated spekboom provides in the nutritional needs of most browsers. Most of the larger antelope such as kudu, nyala, eland and even the giraffes on Chandelier thrive on the newly planted spekboom, especially in the dry season. On the other hand, spekboom has an enormous carbon storing capacity and mops up some of the excess atmospheric CO2 responsible for climate change. By planting the astonishing spekboom, Chandelier Eco Estate is doing its bit for “Mother Nature” helping to reverse the effects of global warming.


Contact us at chandelier@absamail.co.za for more information on how to minimize your own carbon footprint by sponsoring your own spekboom at Chandelier Game Lodge & Private Eco Estate today.

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