Portulacaria afra (iNtelezi, Porkbush, Spekboom) is used for sore throat and mouth infections while the astringent juice is used for soothing skin ailments such as pimples, rashes and insect bites. It is a popular ornamental plant.
Portulacaria afra Monograph
Ethno Medicinal Uses of Portulacaria afra
Indications: Sucking a leaf is used to treat exhaustion, dehydration and heatstroke. Crushed leaves can be rubbed on blisters and corns on the feet to provide relief. The leaves are chewed as a treatment for sore throat and mouth infections while the astringent juice is used for soothing ailments of the skin such as pimples, rashes and insect stings. The juice is also used as an antiseptic and as a treatment for sunburn
Edible: The leaves of the Porkbush can be eaten and have a sour or tart flavour. It is also recorded that a small sprig of Porkbush steamed with a tomato bredie (stew) imparts a delicious flavour
General: Portulacaria afra is effective in carbon sequestration (binding atmospheric carbon which is responsible for climate change). In semi-arid landscapes and thicket vegetation, it is also being used for restoration purposes. It is a popular succulent garden plant around the world and is often used for bonsai.
Portulacaria afra Botanical Information
Name Derivation: The name Portulacaria is composed of Portulaca + aria suggesting a similarity to the genus Portulaca. The word afra is in reference to the fact that the plant occurs in Africa.
Morphology: Succulent shrub or small tree, up to 5 m high. Leaves fleshy, obovate, sessile. Small flowers produced in profusion, in dense sprays at ends of short lateral branchlets. Flowers pink to mauve. They are a rich source of nectar for many insects, which in-turn attracts insectivorous birds.
Habitat: Dry rocky slopes and hillsides.
Growing Portulacaria afra: The Porkbush is easily propagated from cuttings, the seed is not often available. Cuttings or truncheons strike root easily and can even be planted directly into the ground where they are to be grown. Alternatively, cuttings can be taken in the normal manner and allowed to dry out for a day or two in a cool, dry place and then planted in washed river sand. Keep them in a warm shady position until they are rooted and ready to be planted out. Cuttings root quickly and can usually be planted out after four to six weeks.
This monograph contains details of Portulacaria afra as per the references cited below. If you can provide any additional information, photos or reliable records, or spot any errors, please leave a comment below or in The Muthi Flora of southern Africa Facebook group.
Arnold. T.H., Prentice, C.A., Hawker, L.C., Snyman, E.E., Tomalin, M., Crouch, N.R. and Pottas-Bircher, C. (2002). Medicinal and magical plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 13. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
Germizhuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds) 2003. Plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
e-Flora of South Africa. v1.21. 2018. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
PlantZAfrica – http://pza.sanbi.org/portulacaria-afra