The long lived (male) Welwitschia (Welwitschia Mirabilis) plant, a “living fossil” can be seen growing beside fossils from the Petrified Forest situated Aba Huab River valley west of Khorixas, Damaraland, Namibia, Africa. The Welwitschia has a low trunk and two leaves that divide and sprawl on the Namib gravel for the entire life of the plant, which can span many hundreds of years. If this weren’t enough, Welwitschia is a gymnosperm related to Mormon Tea (Ephedra) and produces seeds in cones, not from flowers. An individual Welwitschia plant produces either male or female cones, but never both. The age of the plants is difficult to assess, but they are very long-lived, living 1000 years or more. Some individuals may be more than 2000 years old.
Canon EOS, zoom lens.
Although considered endangered due to its very slow growth and despite the fact that older plants are often sought by collectors, a fair number of plants exist in the wild. The plants living in Angola are better protected than the plants in Namibia, owing to the relatively high concentration of land mines in Angola, which keep collectors away.
(Featured in African Art & Photography.)