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Welwitsch was so overwhelmed by the plant that he, "could do nothing but kneel down and gaze at it, half in fear lest a touch should prove it a figment of the imagination." Joseph Dalton Hooker of the Linnean Society of London, using Welwitsch's description and collected material along with material from the artist Thomas Baines who had independently recorded the plant in Namibia, described the species.
Welwitsch proposed calling the genus Tumboa after what he believed to be the local name, tumbo.
Informal sources commonly refer to the plant as a "living fossil".
Welwitschia is named after the Austrian botanist and doctor Friedrich Welwitsch, who was the first European to describe the plant, in 1859 in present-day Angola.
Welwitschia mirabilis grows readily from seed, which may be bought from specialty seed dealers.
Welwitschia is a monotypic gymnosperm genus, comprising solely the distinctive Welwitschia mirabilis, endemic to the Namib desert within Namibia and Angola.
The plant is commonly known simply as welwitschia in English, but the name tree tumbo is also used.
Infrequently, wasps and bees also play a role as pollinators of Welwitschia.
At least some of the pollinators are attracted by "nectar" produced on both male and female strobili.