BY DAY this plant is an unassuming succulent in a garden pot, by night it is a carbon guzzling superhero helping fight climate change.
One of Bendigo's most respected gardeners is talking up spekboom ahead of the Bendigo's Sustainable Living Festival on March 27.
Jane Ceary says spekboom is amazing, and not only because it lives for up to 200 years.
"It absorbs more carbon than most other plants," the founding member of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic Gardens said.
Some groups estimate that one hectare of spekboom thicket absorbs as much as 10 times more carbon than plants in forests like the Amazon, according to the periodical The Mediterranean Garden.
Each hectare of spekboom could capture 4.2 tonnes of carbon every year.
"This is the only plant I have heard of that has that capacity," Mrs Cleary said.
Spekboom evolved in arid conditions with some fairly unique quirks that have given it that carbon storage capacity.
It closes tiny pores in its tissue during the day to avoid water loss. Those tiny pores - or stomata - open at night to suck up the carbon the plant needs to transform sunlight into the energy.
That effectively separates processes many plants do simultaneously.
Mrs Cleary hopes Australian groups including councils explore the possibilities that spekboom has to offer.
The plant has already inspired a social movement in its native South Africa, where people are planting the succulent and sharing photos on social media to raise awareness about what others can do to deal with climate change.
Spekboom is not fast-growing but is exceptionally hardy and suited to pots and balconies.
It is often used in herbal medicine and can be used in salads and other dishes.
The 2021 Sustainable Living Festival will showcase the best of living products, programs, goods and services in central Victoria.
It will feature speakers including conservationist and Gardening Australia presenter Jerry Coleby-Williams.
The free event takes place at the Garden For the Future, next to the Bendigo Botanic Gardens in White Hills.
Organisers say people will need to book a ticket though, to manage numbers in the age of COVID-19.
Click here for more information.
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