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The beauty of the line : life and times of Dumile Feni by Chabani Manganyi

Cover : Drawing of Welwitschia mirabilis by Marietjie Steyn.



The largest known specimen of Welwitschia in the Iona National Park , Angola; this giant male plant grows in arid savanna on granitic soil, stand 1.5 m tall with a circumference of 14 m around the leaf base and is estimated to be 1 500 years old.


Preface :

With the family, genus and species all rolled into one, Welwitschia mirabilis is truly one of a kind. A rarity among rarities, it is found only in the Namib Desert, extending from Namibia to Angola. Throughout the biological world and since the discovery of this bizarre Namib endemic in 1859, no other single plant has aroused the curiosity and attention of so many scientists.

Welwitschia is the national plant of Namibia. It is a true flagship species of the Namib Desert and although not the prettiest, it is the most peculiar and advanced due to its amazing botanically engineered life form with an incredible capacity to survive the Namib Desert environment. It is no small wonder that Welwitschia is one of the most researched desert plant in the world.

What makes this plant so unique, apart from being highly adapted to the Namib climate, is that its a remnant of the past, representing a group of plants which flourished on earth some 125 million years ago. Welwitschia is a true living fossil! Welwitschia is estimated to grow to about 500 to 1500 years old.

Welwitschia attracts botanist and naturalists from all over the world who come to observe it in its native habitat. It grows in a rugged, harsh and starkly beautiful environment that leaves man spellbound!


About the authors :

Ernst van Jaarsveld. Horticulturist and Botanist with a keen interest in Welwitschia for a long time, having cultivated and cared for these plant for the past 36 years at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Cape Town. He has also travelled widely and studied the plant in its habitat throughout most of its distribution range. Ernst's interest lies in plants from arid and semi-arid regions of southern Africa, especially succulent plants. He holds a PhD from the University of Pretoria, based on his work on cliff dwelling succulent plants in southern Africa and their adaptations.

Uschi Pond. Namibian born and raised - the vast landscapes and open spaces deeply rooted within her. Ecologist, artist and traveller with a particular interest in desert and wetland environs. Uschi qualified in Nature Conservation and Landscape Architecture - is involved in courtyard-garden design, botanical collections and preservations, graphic design and art. She has travelled extensively on the African continent. This book has crystallised from her passion for botany with graphic art, photography and a fascination for this peculiar and unique plant 'Welwitschia'.



Drawing done by Fitch (1817 - 1892) for Curtis's Botanical Magazine of Welwitschia mirabilis in "On Welwitschia, a new Genus of Gnetaceae" by J D Hooker, 1863.

Source : Cape Town : Penrock Publications, 2013. Uncrowned monarch of the Namib = Kronenlose Herrscherin der Namib : Welwitschia mirabilis / Ernst van Jaarsveld and Uschi Pond.

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