How it works: Using Spekboom for carbon offsetting

Date:8 January 2020 Author: Leila Stein Tags:,

Spekboom, or Portulacaria afra, the South African indigenous plant, is a super carbon reducer. The plant with the small, green leaves has been identified as a possible way to help combat carbon pollution.

Studies have shown that the incredible plant can sequester more than 4 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year per hectare planted. This makes it more effective than the Amazon at sucking the harmful gas out of the atmosphere.

The South African government have even included planting Spekboom as part of their carbon offsetting plans, with SA Tourism initiating a project to plant 5,000 Spekboom in identified areas.

Indigenous to the Karoo, it is a tough plant that can survive where many others cannot. But how exactly does the process of sequestering work?

Converting CO2

Much like humans take in oxygen as part of a process to create energy, Spekboom use a similar method with carbon dioxide. The plant contains a form of Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) that can absorb inorganic carbon and convert it into organic compounds. Spekboom takes in CO2 through the stomata at night before closing during the hot, dry summer days. It only photosynthesises the carbon during the night to avoid water evaporation. Spekboom’s CAM content is a result of it’s natural habitat being in a hot, inhospitable environment. The moisture is stored as carbon in the plant’s leaves, stems and roots.

Image: Pravesh Maharaj/ Twitter



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