Monday, February 15, 2010
The Old Man of Angola's Deserts
The same plant was also found 500 miles south in Nambia the following year. The locals in Angola called the plant Tumboa, but the accepted name has come to be Welwitschia mirabilis.
Angolans are very proud of the wonderful plant, and in many ways the welwitschia could be considered the national plant of Angola. The welwitschia, being a strong, long-living plant of ancient origins is considered such a national cultural emblem that children are taught about the plant in school.
The welwitschia is a fascinating plant. By measuring the speed of growth of its giant leaves, and by carbon dating, it has been estimated that it can live for more than 500 years, with some estimates extending to 2,000 years.
The core, especially of the female plant, was used as food for people in earlier times. It is said to be very tasty either raw or baked in hot ashes, and this is how it got its Herero name, onyanga, which means onion of the desert. (Adapted from Sonagola Universo Magazine)