Overview

Brief Summary

Welwitschia is one of three genera in the gymnosperm group of seed plants known as Gnetales, whose relationship to other plants has long been a subject of controversy among botanists and evolutionary biologists. Welwitschia includes just a single species, Welwitschia mirabilis, which is found in the Namib Desert of southwestern Africa (Namibia and Angola). The species is dioecious (i.e., individual plants are either male or female) and each adult plant consists of a giant taproot, a very short woody stem, and two permanent strap-shaped leaves.

(McCoy et al. 2008)

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Comprehensive Description

Welwetschia is a monotypic egymnosperm relict plant genus endemic to the Namib Desert; its sole extant species representative is Welwetschia mirabilis, which, in turn, has two subspecies taxa.

The genus aerial architecture consists of a pair of very wide curled and contorted leaves atop an extremely abbreviated thick stem; these persistent structures are as thick as 1.4 millimetres in the adult specimens. Each of the leaves emerges from the base via an intercalary meristem; moreover, each leaf typically has tattered tips that exhibit extensive basipetal splitting. When a leaf is injured, that area produces a wound periderm.
  • *Arthur C.Gibson. 1996. Structure-function relations of warm desert plants. Springer. 215 pages
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Distribution

Welwitschia includes just a single species, Welwitschia mirabilis, which is found in the Namib Desert of southwestern Africa (Namibia and Angola).

(McCoy et al. 2008)

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Welwitschia Hook. f.:
Angola (Africa & Madagascar)
Namibia (Africa & Madagascar)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Physical Description

Morphology

The only species in the genus Welwitschia, W. mirabilis is dioecious (i.e., individual plants are either male or female) and each adult plant consists of a giant taproot, a very short woody stem, and two permanent strap-shaped leaves (McCoy et al. 2008).

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

The only species in the genus Welwitschia, W. mirabilis is dioecious (i.e., individual plants are either male or female) (McCoy et al. 2008).

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Evolution and Systematics

Systematics or Phylogenetics

Welwitschia is one of three genera in the gymnosperm group of seed plants known as Gnetales, whose relationship to other plants has long been a subject of controversy among botanists and evolutionary biologists. Welwitschia includes just a single species, W. mirabilis.

(McCoy et al. 2008)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:13Public Records:10
Specimens with Sequences:13Public Species:1
Specimens with Barcodes:13Public BINs:0
Species:1         
Species With Barcodes:1         
          
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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Welwitschia

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Barcode data

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