This tangled mess of tattered and withered leaves has been called one of the ugliest plants in the world. While it certainly isn’t pretty, it definitely is one of the most remarkable members of the Plant Kingdom.
Welwitschia mirabilis grows only in the arid deserts of Namibia and Angola. When it was discovered in 1859 by Austrian physician and botanist Friedrich Welwitsch, he was so overwhelmed by the plant that he "could do nothing but kneel down and gaze at it, half in fear lest a touch should prove it a figment of the imagination.”
Welwitschia mirablilis is unusual because the entire plant is comprised of just two leaves —just two, along with a stem base and roots. The pair of leaves are the original baby leaves it grew when the plant was a seedling. The leaves continue to grow like fingernails, never shedding, while their tips get worn off with age and abrasion. The leaves rest on the ground and as they grow, their ends get split, torn and tattered into multiple ribbons, which gives the impression that there are multiple leaves. Many of these plants are over 1,000 years old.
Welwitschia mirablilis, the most remarkable plant, looks like a mess. Photo credit: Hans Hillewaert/WikimediaRead more »
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