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Spekboom Multiplication for Combating Desertification

Spekboom Multiplication for Combating Desertification

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Published by willem van cotthem
Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) is recommended to be used at large scale for combating desertification. Multiplication is very easy: the succulent leaves and small lateral shoots (cuttings) are rooting rather quickly.
Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) is recommended to be used at large scale for combating desertification. Multiplication is very easy: the succulent leaves and small lateral shoots (cuttings) are rooting rather quickly.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: willem van cotthem on May 25, 2010
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10/03/2010

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Spekboom multiplication for combatingdesertification
Prof. Dr. Willem Van CotthemUniversity of Ghent (Belgium)http://desertification.wordpress.com
One of the most interesting plant species used to combat desertification, limitingsoil erosion, producing a dense vegetation cover and a remarkable number of little leaves (fodder, but also edible for humans), is the Spekboom or Elephant'sBush (
Portulacaria afra
).My good friend Johan VAN DE VEN of Bamboo Sur (www.bamboo-plant.nl) was sokind to offer me some rooted cuttings. These are growing very well in pots andPET-bottles in my garden in Belgium.In order to study different ways of multiplication of this Spekboom (with succulentbranches and leaves), I started taking off small lateral shoots (cuttings) andplanted them in some moistened potting soil in a pastry box. I also planted someof the succulent leaves (see my photos below). Within the plastic pastry boxhumidity is kept high (condensation of droplets on the cover). Therefore, Iopened the cover from time to time to let some fresh air (oxygen) in.Quite soon both the cuttings and leaves started rooting. The cuttings swiftlydeveloped some new leaves. A month later I transplanted them into small plasticbottles, twice perforated 2-3 cm above the bottom (for drainage, keeping a smallquantity of water at the bottom for moistening the bottle's content and therootball). Once fully rooted within the plastic bottle, I will cut off the bottom of the bottle to set the lower part of the rootball free. Then I will plant the youngSpekboom in a plant pit without taking off the plastic bottle, sitting as a plasticcylinder around the rootball. The plastic cylinder will keep the rootball moistened(almost no evaporation) and it offers a possibility to water the sapling from timeto time, whenever needed. Irrigation water will run through the plastic cylindertowards the bottom of the rootball growing freely in the soil (irrigation waterdirected towards the roots growing into the soil at the bottom of the plant pit. Thus a high survival rate is guaranteed.I am still waiting for the rooted leaves to form a stem bud from which a newplantlet can grow.It is clear that multiplication of the Spekboom with rooting cuttings and leaves isvery easy. It is another interesting aspect of this remarkable plant. I can onlyrecommend a broader use of the Spekboom for reforestation, fodder productionand even production of bonsais for enhancement of the annual income (export todeveloped countries).Here are some photos of this experiment.
 
2010-04-06 : A Spekboom cutting planted in potting soil in a PET-bottle isrooting very quickly in my garden in Belgium. (Photo WVC)2010-04-06 : Massive root development in the bottle, perforated 2-3 cmabove the bottom. (Photo WVC)
 
2010-04-06 : Lateral shoots with succulent leaves (Photo WVC)

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