Welwitschia : Greenhouse Plants
T – tropical, minimum of 18°C (65°F)
Welwitschia bainesii is a remarkable plant which grows mainly in the Namib desert where rain seldom falls. I am not suggesting that you should grow this plant as it is virtually impossible to get hold of and not at all easy to grow; a task best left to botanic gardens such as the RBG Kew who have built a special Welwitschia area into their new tropical house. I would just like you to look out for this plant whilst visiting collections of tropical plants. They are usually very old, possibly more than a hundred years, and grow from a stumpy trunk up to 1 m (3 ft) in diameter, but raising only up to 30 cm (1 ft) above ground. From this will grow two or rarely three long leathery leaves which arise from grooves in the trunk. These are usually the only leaves the plant will ever grow. They continue to grow slowly from the trunk, while the ends eventually split into many pieces which dry and curl up with age. These are plants of great character and adaptation. Stand and look at the curled leaf tips and wonder how old they are.