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Welwitschia mirabilis (Tree Tumbo)


Scientific Name

Welwitschia mirabilis Hook. f.

Common Names

Tree Tumbo, Tumboa, Welwitschia


Tumboa bainesii, Welwitschia bainesii, Tumboa strobilifera

Scientific Classification

Family: Welwitschiaceae
Genus: Welwitschia


Wonderful, weird, strange, bizarre, fascinating, and unique are the words used to describe Welwitschia mirabilis. It has only two opposite leaves produced from marginal grooves on the crown, each splitting into many parallel sections and twisting. The leaves continue to grow throughout the entire life of the plant. They are broad, strap-shaped, and may reach a length of 13 feet (4 m) and over. The stem is unbranched, woody, and up to 20 inches (50 cm) tall. W. mirabilis is a species with separate male and female plants.


USDA hardiness zone 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

At first glance, it would appear that Welwitschia would be almost impossible to grow, but this is only partly true. Welwitschias can be grown easily, even as pot plants and even on window sills and verandas in cooler climates. Once established, the plant will grow steadily and is relatively disease-free. The most crucial stage is during its first eight months after germination, when it is prone to a fungal attack. Also, as it is not a true succulent, it should not be treated as one. It is dependent on additional water from its roots, and if grown in a pot, care should be taken that the soil does not dry out completely.

When growing Welwitschia, a few important factors are considered: the long taproot, its dependence on extra moisture, and the soil used. See more at: How to Grow and Care for Welwitschia.


Endemic to the Namib desert within Namibia and Angola.


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