Welwitschia is a monotypic gymnosperm genus, comprising solely the very distinct Welwitschia mirabilis. The plant is commonly known simply as Welwitschia, and has various common names in local languages, for example kharos or khurub in Nama, tweeblaarkanniedood in Afrikaans, nyanka inDamara, and onyanga in Herero. It is the only genus of the family Welwitschiaceae and orderWelwitschiales, in the division Gnetophyta. Informal sources commonly refer to the plant as a “living fossil“. Welwitschia mirabilis is endemic to the Namib desert within Namibia and Angola.
Welwitschia mirabilis is endemic to the Kaokoveld Centre; the population is distributed southwards from the Nicolau River in southern Angola, to the Kuiseb River in Namibia and up to 100 km inland of the coast. The area is extremely arid: the coast is recorded as having almost zero rainfall, while less than 100mm of rain falls annually below the escarpment in the wet season from February to April.Populations tend to occur in ephemeral water courses, indicating a dependence on ground water in addition to precipitation from fog.
(From Wikipedia, April 2015)