The Welwitschia plant grows in the Namib Desert, which is one of the world's oldest deserts with extreme arid conditions stretching in the western part of Namibia along the coast up to the southwestern part of Angola. It's also the national plant of Namibia.
At first sight welwitschia plants might not appear quite impressive, particularly when they're still small. They grow close to the ground and, apart from the pale green leaves, they look almost… dead. The older, larger specimens, particularly the giant welwitschia, are impressive to the point of becoming a tourist attraction.
Even 1,500 year old welwitschia plants have just two leaves. They're not easy to see, though, as the leaves grow very long and split multiple times at their ends. The way these plants grow is also unique. After splitting its leaves into two parts, it grows into four parts again.
The first Welwitschia plant was discovered by Austrian botanist Friedrich Welwitsch in 1860 in the Namib desert in the southern part of Angola. The plant was named after Friedrich in recognition of his successful botanical research and because he found and collected it first.
Welwitschia can also adjust the color of its leaves. When it's very hot, the leaves produce more red pigments, which protect the plant from the sun's radiation. When temperatures drop and water is more readily available, the leaves form more chlorophyll, the green pigment, to conduct photosynthesis. Welwitschia plants have a gender: Male plant on the left, female on the right
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