Welwitschia mirabilis is the last remaining plant in its genus, the last in its family, the last in its order. It comes from a community of plants that thrived more than 200 million years ago. All of them slowly vanished, except for Welwitschia.
The plant can live up to 1,500 years and is only found in the Namib Desert between Namibia and Angola. It survives on moisture from fog and dew.
It has two main leaves and a deep taproot. It is actually a tree with a very short trunk and it grows extremely slowly. Over the years the leaves become enormous and often split into several lobes. When they get to a couple of metres long, the ends curl up and fray into gray, whiskery threads, so it is only their continual renewal from the centre that allows the plant to carry on growing and photosynthesizing.