Spekboom is a common sight at Lalibela. Known also as Pork Bush or Elephant’s Food, this plant is an environmental activist in its own right. Our ultimate passion at Lalibela is conservation. We believe in sustaining the essence of Africa. Of course, we love our wildlife but equally important is the habitat they live in. Here are 5 things worth knowing about this incredible plant as we celebrate World Environment Day.

1. It’s Proudly South African

Spekboom is indigenous and found mainly in the Eastern Cape. This tree with its beautiful pink flowers is also considered a delicacy by elephants! Kudu and black rhino also consider Spekboom a firm favourite in their diet.

2. It’s an Eco-Warrior

Spekboom is one of the best trees in the world at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It can absorb between four to ten tonnes of carbon per hectare. Hectare per hectare that’s more effective than the Amazon rainforest. Spekboom is also extremely water-wise – it can survive on as little as 250 to 350mm of water a year!

3. It Ages Well

Spekboom trees can grow as tall as 5 metres and live up to 200 years! It’s also a plant that propagates very easily – it takes only a broken branch to spread roots and grow a new plant.

4. It’s Not Just for the Elephants

Spekboom is extremely nutritious and can be enjoyed by us humans too! The leaves are juicy with a lemony flavour – sucking on one during a hike is the perfect pick me up! Otherwise, you can use it as a salad ingredient if you fancy being an adventurous cook.

5. It’s Adaptable

Spekboom is extremely resilient to both heat and cold. This is because it can adapt to its surrounding. During wet, cool months, it photosynthesises like other plants – absorbing carbon dioxide in the day light. During drier, hotter seasons, Spekboom photosynthesises at night, preventing water loss during the heat of the day.

In search of more reading? Here’s five plants to look out for at Lalibela!