Namibia's flag
Namibia
Welwitschia
Home <- Namibia Home <- Welwitschia mirabilis
Travel Diary Sossussvlei Birds Swakop/Walvis Bay Hobatere Himba People Home
Welwitschia Cape Cross Etosha Moon Landscape Okonjima Twyfelfontein Misc

The Welwitschia mirabilis plant of Namibia

The Welwitschia mirabilis plant (often mis-spelled Welwitchia) has only two leaves and can live for over a thousand years. It is found in parts of Namibia and Angola. The easiest place to see it in Namibia is "Welwitschia Drive", inland from Swakopmund. This can easily be combined, in a round trip, with the "Moon Landscape". You need to get a permit to visit Welwitschia Drive and one for the Moon Landscape. There are also a few smaller examples at the Petrified Forest about 40km from Khorixas. More info.
Male Welwitschia plant Although the plant looks as if it has many leaves, it has only two, but as it is so old, it gets shredded by the wind.
The leaves can spread for several metres across, and their roots go about a metre down. Their scientific name comes from the first European to describe it, Friedrich Welwitsch, and mirabilis from its marvellous ability to survive in such harsh, apparently waterless conditions. Detailed botanical info.
Once on Welwitschia drive keep a look-out for the plants, some large examples of which are near the road, surrounded by circles of large stones. You can walk among these, being very careful where you put your feet.
A hi-res, RF version of this image can be found at View My Portfolio
Female Welwitschia plant
Young Welwitschia plant <- This is a 'young' plant, showing how it begins with two leaves, which first fray, as shown here, then shred as shown in the photos above, making it look as though the plant has many tongue-like leaves.
Travel Diary Sossussvlei Birds Swakop/Walvis Bay Hobatere Himba People Home
Welwitschia Cape Cross Etosha Moon Landscape Okonjima Twyfelfontein Misc
Images and text © Liz Leyden 2008.
May be used for non-profit personal or educational purposes only.
Don't hotlink to my images
Flag image © Management Graphics Ltd. May not be used.

Many of my best Namibian images are available, royalty-free, at:

View My Portfolio