Candide
Download the free app
Download on the App Store
Get it on Google Play
Candide logo
Download on the App Store
Get it on Google Play

Elephant food

Portulacaria afra

Porkbush, Dwarf Jade plant (Eng.), Spekboom (Afr.)

Portulacaria afra, better known locally as Spekboom, is an attractive and robust succulent shrub or small tree that is planted across the globe and is often used ornamentally as a hardy bonsai. It has small rouund succulent leaves and red stems which survive in arid conditions, forms part of elephants', among other animals, diets and is also used by people for culinary and medicinal purposes. What makes this plant so unique is that it does not only fulfill the various needs of both human and animal, ​but that it also promotes a healthier environment by preventing soil erosion and being an excellent carbon sponge.

Planning

Difficulty
Easy
Flowering time
Winter
Fruiting time
Spring

Harvesting

Pick leaves at any time, as needed to add to food, or to use medicinally.

Propagation

Cuttings
Roots easily and can be planted directly into the ground where they are to grow. Cuttings can be taken in the normal manner(about 10-15cm, remove bottom leaves), allow to dry out and plant in washed river sand.
Seed
Seed is not often available.

Special features

Attracts birds
It is a source of nectar orwater to insects thereby it also attracts insectivorous birds.
Attracts useful insects
They are a rich source of nectar and water for many insects, such as bees.
Drought resistant
In dry conditions when other plants have to shutdown and wait for sufficient rain, Elephant food can use CAM (Crassulacean Acid Metabolism) to keep taking up carbon and continue growing.
Hedge plant
The Elephant Food can be used as a screen or even a clipped hedge.
Pot plant
Just make sure that the pot has large drainage holes and that the plant never stands in water.
Indoor plant
Place the plant in a room with direct sun and without a draught.

Geography

Origin
Native to South Africa
Natural climate
Arid to semi-arid desert. Mediterranean.

Environment

Light
Full Sun, Partial Sun
Soil moisture
Dry
Soil type
Loam, Sand
Soil PH preference
Neutral
Frost hardiness
Half-Hardy

Uses

Medicinal
The leaves are used to treat over-exhaustion, dehydration, blisters, acne, insect bites and sunburn, and also to lower high blood sugar levels. Traditionally used to promote the flow of breast milk.
Edible
Leaves can be eaten raw from the plant or in salads or added to stew. Honey is made from the plant. It is also valuable stock feed.
Bonsai
Easy Bonsai start for amateurs!
Notes
Prevents soil erosion. Medicinal properties. Carbon sponge.

Personality

Family
Portulacaceae
Flower colour
Pink
Scent
None

Problems

A mistletoe, Viscum crassulae, parasitizes this plant. Pests include the whitefly, spider mites and mealybugs.

Download the free app

Download on the App Store
Get it on Google Play