It's one of my favorite plants, period; also easy to grow, if you don't let it get bone dry (very important). [BB]

Pots and Repotting

Germinating Seeds




Encyclopaedia Brittanica (bastion of knowledge that it is, I would hesitate to call it a tome of taxonomical wisdom) lists two- mirabilis and W. bainesii. Any comment on this from the group? [AJH]

There's only one species - bainesii and mirabilis are synonyms. [BB]

My own quick and dirty top down taxonomy:

Seed Plants can be divided into the Angiosperms (flowering plants) and the Gymnosperms (except for a few exceptions cone bearing). Gymnosperms can be divided into three groups: the conifers; the cycads and a strange group consisting of four very odd plants which have some features belonging to the Angiosperms and some belonging to the Gymnosperms: Ginkgo, Welwitschia (and 2 others).



Bornman, Chris. Welwitschia mirabilis: Paradox of the Namib Desert. Endeavour vol. 113 pp. 95-99, London, 1972.

Bornman, Chris. Welwitschia: Paradox of a Parched Paradise. C. Struik Publishers, Cape Town & Johannesburg, 1978.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. On Welwitschia, a new genus of gnetaceae. Transactions of the Linnean Society of London (vol. 24), 1862. Note: In the collection of the UB Groningen

Van der Meulen, Regina Gerharda. Welwitschia mirabilis Hook. f. : morphologie van het zaad en de vegetatieve organen. De Waal, Groningen, 1917. Note: In the collection of the UB Groningen


Berlin Botanical Gardens

The largest collection I have seen is in the Berlin Botanical Gardens. They had both sexes present in the collection and appeared to be keeping track of genotypes. Unfortunately the person responsible for the collection was not available when I was there in 1987. Welwitschia is a gymnosperm with certain traits shared with the angiosperms. I am looking for seeds too, so if you find anything I would sure like to know! [RK]


A. J. Hicks ( New Mexico Website

Brian A. O'Brien (
Department of Chemistry, Gustavus Adolphus College
Saint Peter, Minnesota 56082 U.S.A.
tel. (507) 933-7310
fax. (507) 933-7041

Ross Koning (
Biology Department
Eastern CT State University
Willimantic, CT 06226
tel. (203) 465-5327
fax. (203) 465-5213

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