The science(y) bit
Carbon dioxide levels are rising at an unprecedented level. We need to do as much as we can to reduce the amount going into the atmosphere and absorb what is already there.
Scientific evidence for the warming of our climate is unequivocal. The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years.
Spekboom is the Afrikaans name of Portulacaria afra. We love the name Spekboom, so we decided to use it for the project. It is native to the Eastern Cape of South Africa, but it will be very happy indoors in the UK!
Recent research has shown Spekboom to be an excellent 'carbon sponge' as it has the ability to sequestrate (absorb) free carbon from the atmosphere which is used to make plant tissue. Carbon is one of the major greenhouse gases which are responsible for the warming of the earth's atmosphere. Currently, humans are producing atmospheric carbon faster than the environment can absorb it, causing a deficit which remains in the atmosphere and causes heat from the sun to be trapped instead of being radiated back out into space. Spekboom has the unique ability to absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than most other plants and it does so particularly efficiently.
How does Spekboom manage this? Spekboom has the ability to make use of two different photosynthetic methods, when conditions are favourable it manufactures its food to sustain growth by using the same method that most other plants use. However, when conditions are not favourable and other plants have to shut down, Spekboom can switch to a different method called CAM (Crassulacean Acid Metabolism) whereby it can continue to grow and slurp up huge amounts of carbon.
Plainly speaking, this remarkable plant is so unique in that it stores solar energy during the day so it can absorb Co2 even at night!