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Welwitschia Often referred to as a 'living fossil' this is possibly one of the strangest plants on the planet. The Welwitschia actually only produces one pair of leaves which then split over time. It can reach up to 8m in diameter and live for over a thousand years! Geotagged,Namibia,Welwitschia,Welwitschia mirabilis Click/tap to enlarge PromotedSpecies introCountry intro

Welwitschia

Often referred to as a 'living fossil' this is possibly one of the strangest plants on the planet. The Welwitschia actually only produces one pair of leaves which then split over time. It can reach up to 8m in diameter and live for over a thousand years!

    comments (8)

  1. This is so weird and impressive in so many ways, thanks for sharing and educating. I've noticed a few very strange species last week. Somebody should make a list of that...wink wink. Posted 5 years ago
    1. Ha ha, almost forgot to add it! Really incredible plant, found this in my old archives, don't know why I did not post it before! Posted 5 years ago
      1. What about this one? Looks like a contender for the list:

        Poster boy for Colgate..!!! :D  Gavialis gangeticus,Geotagged,Gharial,India
        Posted 5 years ago
        1. I actually thought I had added it...have now! Thanks! Posted 5 years ago
  2. Wow! That's an odd plant I had never heard of. Posted 5 years ago
    1. Now that is something!! Posted 5 years ago
  3. Wonderful picture of an amazing plant! it's up there on my wish-list :-)
    I've only seen it in Botanical Gardens...
    Posted 3 months ago
  4. From today's Facebook post:

    The octopus of the desert! Welwitschia (Welwitschia mirabilis) is a plant that time forgot. Some call it "ugly", but this plant is too cool to be described by such a lame adjective. It's weird, wonderful, fascinating, and is considered a living fossil. There is really nothing else like it on Earth! Welwitschia is endemic to the arid deserts of Namibia and Angola. It's a gymnosperm, and thus reproduces through cones. The sexes of Welwitschia are separate, so there are male and female plants. They produce very little pollen and rely on insects for pollination.

    What's truly remarkable about Welwitschia is that it can live for more than 1,000 years! In fact, it has the honor of having the longest-lived leaves in the plant kingdom. It is the only surviving species in an unusual lineage of plants as all of its close relatives have met with extinction. Only Welwitschia has remained.

    Welwitschia grows super slowly: the leaves grow an average of 8-15 cm per year. Each plant is comprised of only two leaves that grow atop a short stem. The plant will never grow another leaf in its 1,000+ year lifespan. The original pair of leaves grow continuously throughout the plant's lifetime. They rest on the ground and get tattered by the wind, which limits their growth potential to about a meter wide. The leaves are thick, which helps keep the soil under the plant moist and cool—an important feature for the plant to survive in the desert.

    Rainfall in the desert is extremely erratic, so Welwitschia gets its moisture from the fog that regularly blankets the coast of the Namib desert at night. Another crucial feature is that they have extremely long tap roots that can actually reach the water table! Germination only occurs during periods of heavy rainfall, which is a rare occurrence. Once they sprout, seedlings are forced to rely on fog for moisture until the next rainfall occurs. It's not an easy life, and not all seedlings will survive the desert climate. But, thanks to the species' incredible longevity, it is not at risk of extinction. In an odd twist, Welwitschia plants in Angola are especially safe due to the high concentration of landmines left over from civil war. No one dares venture close enough to disturb those plants. {Spotted in Namibia by JungleDragon moderator, Claire Hamilton} #JungleDragon
    Posted 3 months ago, modified 3 months ago

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''Welwitschia'' is a monotypic gymnosperm genus, comprising solely the very distinct ''Welwitschia mirabilis''. The plant is commonly known simply as Welwitschia, and has various common names in local languages, for example ''kharos'' or ''khurub'' in Nama, ''tweeblaarkanniedood'' in Afrikaans, ''nyanka'' in Damara, and ''onyanga'' in Herero. It is the only genus of the family Welwitschiaceae and order Welwitschiales, in the division Gnetophyta. Informal sources commonly refer to the plant as a.. more

Similar species: Welwitschiales
Species identified by Claire Hamilton
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By Claire Hamilton

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Uploaded Feb 8, 2014. Captured Feb 12, 2007 14:32 in Hardap, Namibia.
  • FinePix S602 ZOOM
  • f/8.0
  • 1/549s
  • ISO200
  • 9.7mm