Have you ever heard of spekboom? This miracle plant helps combat climate change and tastes good in ice cream. What can’t it do?
(rooster crows) (goats sniffs) - Hi, my name is Samantha Reinders, and I'm a photojournalist based in South Africa.
I live in the small town of Prince Albert in the semi-dessert area of the Karoo.
The Karoo is famous for many, many things, but I'm here today to tell you specifically about one of them.
And it's this resilient little green, gray shrub that is indigenous to the entire country but really common in these parts.
It's called spekboom, here it is here, or portulacaria afra.
In Afrikaans, which is spoken in these parts, it translates literally into bacon bush, which is ridiculous because it has nothing to do with bacon at all.
What is amazing about this plant though is that it has become the charismatic ambassador for an entire social media phenomenon.
And many people believe it to be able to fight climate change, like a heavyweight boxer.
Spekboom is the king of carbon sequestration.
Carbon sequestration is when carbon is captured out of the atmosphere and stored.
In optimal conditions, one hectare of spekboom can sequester four to 10 tons of carbon a year.
And compared to other succulents, it grows quickly and in mass and even in times of drought.
Besides all of its so called, miracle properties, it's also just a pretty plant and hardy.
And for someone like myself who doesn't have very green fingers, it's easy to grow.
This little cutting has been in water for awhile.
As you see, it's even got a little bit of a root.
So I'm gonna plant this one right now.
(birds chirp) But you don't have to root them beforehand.
You can just actually chop a big piece off a much bigger plant and plop it in some soil.
It's really that easy.
Sandy soil does the best job.
Plop it in.
Spekboom plants are good for big pots, small pots on sunny porches.
So it can grow inside or on a patio, outside in the garden, and they make for really, really good bonsai's as well.
They really are kind of a jack of all trades.
All they need every now and again is a little bit of water.
(goat crunches) Elephants love to eat the stuff.
They can eat up to kilograms of it in a day.
Black rhinos also love it.
Now, I don't have any of those guys on my farm, but I do have a bunch of angora goats.
And they love to eat some spekboom.
Here we have a hungry guy.
Would you like some sir?
There we go.
(spekboom rustles) Spekboom makes a beautiful flower in spring and summer if the rains have been good.
And that also brings loads of insects, especially bees.
And the bees bring the birds.
So everyone likes a little bit of spekboom.
(goat crunches) The good news is, is that it's not just animals that can eat spekboom, it's pretty tasty for humans too, and good to boot.
It is packed full of vitamin C, as well as, manganese, magnesium and cobalt.
And, it contains micro-elements, iodine and selenium, which act as antioxidants.
It's got like slightly lemony, tangy taste.
(Samantha crunches) And you can eat it straight off the bush, pretty tarty.
It's perfect if you're doing a long, hot hike through the Karoo.
It's great for dehydration.
It's great, it will help with exhaustion or heat stroke, any of those things.
But, don't be surprised if you see it on a Michelin star menu either.
It is all the rage in Cape Town restaurants at the moment.
It is great in stews.
It's great in salads.
But, I'm not gonna lie, I have a sweet tooth, and this over here is spekboom ice cream.
And it's pretty delicious.
I'm gonna attack into the rest of this, and come and visit me in the Karoo sometime and see some spekboom for yourself and give it a taste.