Welwitschia Mirabilis is a very rare, odd looking plant that grows in the desert of Namib. It is an extremly primitive plant, with very few surviving relatives, with the only notable one being the Ephedra plant.

The plant grows only 3 or 4 inches off the ground, and its only foliage is two leaves with parallel venation that radiate out from the center. These leaves get shredded by the wind and so appear as being several dozen different leaves, however. They also tend to grow in spirals and crumple around on each other. Living in the Namib desert, the plant doesn't get too much moisture in the form of precipitation, in fact, some years it probably gets none whatsoever. It can, however, survive off of the fog that sometimes rolls into the desert. Even with all the stresses that the plant is exposed to, it can live over a thousand years. It's adaptation, hardiness and unusually appearence are probably what earned the plant the name Mirabilis, meaning literally miraculous.

When viewed from above, the Welwitschia Mirabilis looks a great deal like the famous ICQ flower. Given this fact and the name, I have always believed that the ICQ flower is not a flower at all, but actually a representation of a Welwitschia Mirabilis plant.

Unlike my tree octopus node, this is all true...

Wel*witsch"i*a (?), n. [NL. So named after the discoverer, Dr. Friedrich Welwitsch.] Bot.

An African plant (Welwitschia mirabilis) belonging to the order Gnetaceae. It consists of a short, woody, topshaped stem, and never more than two leaves, which are the cotyledons enormously developed, and at length split into diverging segments.


© Webster 1913.

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