Miracle plants in the Namib Desert of Africa

 

There are miracle plants of the Namib desert have perfected survival in the harsh conditions of the desert.

Welwitschia mirabilis 

 

This plant is really amazing. It has two leaves, a stem, and a  root base. The leaves grow on opposite sides and continue growing never dropping. They tear from the wind and get browned by the sun, looking like individual leaves.

The stem thickens and grows and may reach six feet in height and twenty-four feet in width. Corn like flowers appears at when the plant reaches 20 years. 100 flowers are produced by the female plant, the male produces pollen abundance and the lifespan of the plant can reach an estimated 2000 years.

The plant was named after the medical doctor who discovered it. Friedrich Welwitschia in the year 1860. He intended to give it an Angolan native name ‘Tumboa’, but the plant was named in honor of him.  Mirabilis means wonderful or marvelous in Latin

Described as ‘the platypus of the plant kingdom by Charles Darwin the plant is considered as a living fossil. It masters life in the hot and dry desert where other plants will not survive

The plant is endemic to the Namib desert in Namibia as well as Southern Angola. It is Namibia’s national plant. The rugby team in Namibia carried its name as well.  Mirabilis means marvelous in Latin It is a “living fossil.”

Initially, sightings of the plant are not impressive, especially when they are small. The leaves are a pale green and the plant seems to be dead.

A 1500-year-old giant welwitschia is a popular tourist attraction. There is one  50 kilometers east in  Swakopmund on the coast of the Atlantic ocean.  It is about 1500 years old and almost as tall as a human being. It is fenced to keep away trampling feet from the sensitive root system.

Researchers in the Namib Desert have concluded that the moisture capturing is because of fog. Fog keeps the fine root of the Welwitschia’s fine roots. The Namib desert is characterized by fog.

The formation of the fog is when the humid masses if air meets the cold current of the Benguela and the fog  is blown inland

Welwitschia has two leaves that continue growing at 0.37 mm each day of its life. The patient Plant sits and waits for better conditions. A lesson for us humans indeed,

Welwitschia mirabilis, male plant (on the left) and female plant (on the right)
Male Welwitschia – Left Female Welwitschia – Right

Welwitschia also adjusts the color of leaves. When very hot, there are more red pigments,  that protect the plant from the radiation of the sun. When water is readily available and temperatures drop the leaves chlorophyll, a green pigment that conducts photosynthesis.

The Nara plant

Nara Plant

The  Nara plant (Acanthosicyos horridus). grows exclusively in the Namib desert, The leaves prevent water loss and photosynthesis is conducted through the spines and green stems Moisture is absorbed from surrounding fog,

The plant also absorbs moisture from fog directly through its stems. These plants grow on sand dunes and middle desert.Interestingly, these plants created the dunes.

The Nara plants growing on the ground, accumulate sand that the wind blows in. The lower end of the plant covered in sand dies an provides nutrients to other parts of the plant. The new plant grows above the previous one. The height of the Nara plant accumulates an addition of sand, forming the dune

 This is how it works: Nara plants growing on the ground accumulate sand around them, blown in by the wind. The lower part of the plant, which is covered in sand, eventually dies, providing nutrients for other parts of the plant. New plant parts then grow on top of the old one. The Nara plant gains height as a result, accumulating more sand and forming dunes. The plants reach heights of 3meters

The Nara plant produces tasty desert fruit. Melons that grow as large as ostrich eggs.

The water-rich food is a great food source for animals and people. The native ethnic group, the TopNaar people harvest the melons on a seasonal basis. They eat the fruit and sell the seeds for producing cosmetics for their rich omega oil composition.

The exclusive Namib desert plants like the Nara and Welwitschia sustain their long life by adjusting to the environment.

Welcome #Exploremotherland Africa

ExploreMotherland Africa region Contact list

 

Welcome to  #ExploremotherlandAfrica.   We aim to provide the ultimate tool for exploring Africa. A  listing of all service providers in each region. We will feature hosts, volunteer programmes, tour operators, accommodation and restaurant listings.

Each service provider will be evaluated prior to publishing to ensure travellers top level experiences on their journey to #ExploreMotherlandAfrica.

We welcome reviews from travellers as well.  All service providers, please provide details and links in the form below.

 

 

Travellers tell us about your experiences and recommendation

 

 

 

Welcome #ExploreMotherlandAfrica

 

Namibia City Life : Windhoek – ‘Air Basin Surrounded by Rolling Mountains’

Namibia is an ideal destination for adventure, but if you are not in the adventurous mode to experience it, a road network that is maintained will make the journey a pleasure!

Windhoek is Namibia’s capital city and lies in the heart of the central highlands in an airy basin surrounded by rolling mountains. It is the cleanest, most relaxed and safest capital cities in Southern Africa, the perfect place to round up or launch a Namibian holiday.

At the arrival in the cosy capital of Windhoek, there is an impressive combination of innovative modern constructions and old German colonial buildings. Many shops have German owners and you meet German speaking Namibians everywhere.

It’s a bustling, cosmopolitan city with good hotels, sophisticated shops and great bistros. There is a  harmonious blend of  European and African cultures and overall friendliness.

State buildings range from the Parliament of Namibia to the newly founded Hero’s Acre on the road to Rehoboth. The Heroes’ Acre is a modern, state of the art national symbol that was inaugurated by His Excellency, Dr Sam Nujoma, on 26 August 2002.

It was built to foster the spirit of patriotism and nationalism and to pass on this legacy to the future generation of Namibia. The Heroes’ Acre took 13 months to construct covering 732.9212 hectares. It houses 174 graves.

Day tours are available to Katutura, the Windhoek museums, the National Library,  National Art Gallery, National Archives, National Art Gallery and the Botanical Gardens.

Or you can admire the German colonial architecture of the Alte Feste, (1892) In Robert Mugabe Avenue.this is one of the oldest buildings in Windhoek, with its cornerstone laid in 1890. It served as a military headquarters in 1915 and then as a hostel for the Windhoek High School in 1935. In 1957 it was declared a national monument.

It now houses state museum, where the historic independence collection, reflecting events leading up to the independence of Namibia can be seen.  You can also see the Tintenpalast parliament building and the Christuskirche, the city’s landmark church.

 

Shop for African crafts and curios and splurge on local game such as springbok or kudu at the city’s fine restaurants. The bi-monthly Windhoek Street Market has local crafts every second Saturday.

An opportunity to buy diamonds and other semi-precious stones or Herero dolls. There is also a range of wooden hand-carvings, karosse rugs, jewellery and liqueur chocolates manufactured in Windhoek as well as Swakara garments.

A little seaside resort of Swakopmund is ideal. There is a strong Germanic flavour to its boarding houses and bars, and it is surrounded by a desert that is great for quad-biking, dune buggy racing and sand-boarding.

It was the German merchant and adventurer Adolf Luederitz from Bremen, who bought the bay of Angra Pequeña from Nama Chief Joseph Fredericks in 1883 for 10 000 Reichsmark and 260 guns. The bay is today known as Luederitz Bay. Later when diamonds were discovered – German authorities branded the area between Lüderitz and the Orange River a ‘forbidden area’.

The diversity of Namibia is a rich blend of traditions and cultures. The population is composed of several different ethnic groups, including the San, the Khoi-Khoi, the Herero, and the Ovambo as well as the small European population, largely Germans and Afrikaners.

Visit the kraal, or homestead, of indigenous semi-nomadic pastoralists, the Himba, in the Kaokoland region of northern Namibia, to learn about tribal customs and desert survival techniques.

Namibia is the fourth largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa and the world’s fifth largest producer of uranium and is set to become the largest exporter of uranium by 2015.

Currency: Namibian dollar N

Electrical Plugs: 50Hz

Languages: English is the sole official language of Namibia. German, Afrikaans and Oshiwambo became recognised regional languages.

You need a passport and a visa
The luxury Desert Express runs between Swakopmund and Windhoek, a 19-hour 30-minute journey which includes several stops which give travellers the opportunity to watch lions feeding, see the Namib Desert,stroll in the sand dunes admiring the stars! ExploreMotherlandAfrica#