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Welwitschia Cones & Pollinators

Welwitschia  Cones & Pollinators
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Plants
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-10-14
Categories: Insects, Desert, Flowers
Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds MkII, Canon EF 100 mm F2.8 Macro USM
Exposure: f/5.0, 1/320 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Travelogue: Namibia
Date Submitted: 2008-11-18 6:38
Viewed: 6390
Points: 46
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Hello everybody. Today I bring you another posting of Welwitschia Miribilis, though this time the close up of a female plant (yesterday it was a male), showing the primitive cones (Welwitschias are in fact primitive conifers) and their pollinators. I have no idea if this is one species exhibiting sexual diomorphism, or two distinct species - can anyone help?

I am posting another shot in the workshop to give a better impression of how they grow and just how hostile the environment is.

Welwitschia is ecologically highly specialized, and is adapted to grow under arid conditions receiving regular fog. This regular, dense fog is formed when the cold north-flowing Benguela Current meets the hot air coming off the Namib Desert. The fog develops during the night and usually subsides by about 10 a.m The leaves are broad and large and droop downwards. This is an ideal way for it to water its own roots from water collected by condensation. It also has numerous stomata on both leaf surfaces and fog-water is taken up directly through these stomata. The fog has been estimated to contribute 50 mm in annual rainfall, but in spite of the fog, the plants are still dependent on additional sources. Rainfall in this area is erratic and extremely low, only 10 - 100 mm during the summer months. In some years, no rain falls at all. The plants are often confined to dry watercourses or next to higher rainfall regions, and they occasionally grow on rocky outcrops. All these habitats point to an additional underground water supply. The plant has a long taproot, allowing it to reach this underground water.

There are other interesting environmental adaptations. The largest plants are found to the south where the rainfall is the least, whereas in the north where the rainfall is higher the plants are much smaller. The most likely reason for this is that the plants in the north have to compete with savannah vegetation whereas those in the south have little or no competition. Another interesting adaptation is the corky bark, which could be the result of thousands of years of exposure to grass fires so commonly associated with savannah.

Antelope and rhino chew the leaves for their juice during times of drought, and spit out the tough fibres. They also eat the soft part near the groove. This luckily does not damage the plant as they simply grow out again from the meristematic tissue.

oanaotilia, Evelynn, eqshannon, boreocypriensis, Nephrotome2, rousettus, jaycee, siggi, CeltickRanger, NinaM, pekkavalo1, vanderschelden, Dis. Ac., PeterZ, nglen, pankajbajpai, cataclysta, horia, ferranjlloret, Pitoncle, Adanac has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-11-18 7:13]

Hello James, very interresting note and a very good macro, well done again!


I'm so glad you can type it:-) It sounds like a tongue twister to me...and what it truly looks like might sound profane:-) but the image is perfect and the notes are quite in depth..

Hi James,

That is the most bizarre plant. I can't imagine it living for 1000+ years with animals chewing on it! Survival is job one for all organisms I suppose, and nature is so resourceful and amazing! I would never have thought of it asa conifeer!

Evelynn : )

Wish me luck! I'm doing a slide presentation at the university today. I just learned that I have 2 hours to fill rather than the one I was told about!!! AGGGGGHHHHHH! :0 !

Hi Bro James,
Excellent macro capture of this interesting plant flowers and its pollinator Reduviid bugs in a wonderful composition.
TFS and cheers,


I do not know those bugs. Nevertheless their anatomy looks like some we have here (Pyrrhocoris). The red one looks like younger to me. Still one molt to go before beeing a grown up.
Unusual POV.
Very interesting tree.


Hello James
interesting looking plants of Welwitschia . I know this species from botanical lessons when I was a student at biology department. its pallinator also very beautiful with red color. Your notes also interesting and nice to read. Thanks for sharing all of them. best wishes.

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-11-18 9:51]

Hi James,

Fascinating shot of the cones and pollinators. This is one amazing plant and I thank you for introducing it to TN. Just unbelievable that it can flourish for over a thousand years with barely any water and animals chewing on the leaves!


  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2008-11-18 10:03]

Hello James,
Nice macro shot, with great details and a very good light. I like very well this plant which bugs.Excellent light and details perfect shot.
best regards Siggi

hello James

2 in 1 excellent image with the plant and the insects,
with beautiful luminosity, excellent sharpness and details,
i also love the WS image, TFS


  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2008-11-18 10:20]

Unusual and beautiful, what a surprising picture which you captured very well with the high pov. What a great plant, adaptation is amazing. I like the notes too, so informative, I learned a lot while reading it. Many thanks,


Hi James,
Very good close-up picture of these Welwitschia Miribilis with good POV and composition, sharp details, nice DOF and colours.

Hello James,
Fog in Namibia is probably no problem...
Extraordinary cones as well.
There's a small DOF issue. Pff...:-)
Good workshop image as well.
Very educational contribution.

Hi James,

Good macroshot but a little more dof are better I think.
great details ansd nice to also an insect on this strange flower.


  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-11-18 11:16]

Hello James,
Extraordinary and original photo. I've also seen this wonderful plants in Namibia. It's a wonder how they can survive. But I can't give you an answer on your question.
The bugs are a great bonus in this photo. Very beautiful!

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-11-18 12:06]

Hi James. I had to open this one up as well to see what it was. They look like walnut whips if you know them. Good detail and colours with the insect doing its job.You have colected some unusual plants on your trip. well done TFS.

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-11-18 13:29]

Hi James,
a great capture of this weird plant with what looks like Plant Bugs on it.
Very good composition.
Great exposure.

Well done,

hello james,
this one looks really interesting, this closeup of the female plant has wonderful colors and the details, very nice upper pov, liked the composition too,
tfs & regards

  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2008-11-18 22:49]

Hi James,
Outstanding shot of these primitive cones and the little bugs as pollinators. Very neat and sharp image with nice colours and perfect illumination. I like your creative top POV too. Excellent DOF and composition.

Hi James
Very interesting photo and good informative note. I like the unusual POV here. 3 bugs as a special bonus

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2008-11-20 8:26]

Hi James

These posting of your on this really rare and interesting plants - the Welwitschia miribilis - are amazing and also very valuable.
It's nice to see something that actually made evolution history...than just something bright and very colorful.
This is an excellent close-up on these female cones, presented with great sharpness and creating a lovely composition.
I also enjoyed the wider view from the workshop picture and, of course, the elaborate note.

Bravo and TFS

Hi James,
Una foto molt interessant, no sols de la planta sino del polinitzador. Salut.

Bonjour James,
Très belle et intéressante macro dans laquelle les sujets sont bien valorisés par la finesse de leurs détails et la délicatesse de leurs couleurs.
A bientôt sur TN pour de nouvelles aventures.

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2008-11-22 12:13]

Hello James,
A rare macro image from you James, and this is a real beauty showing both the plant and beetles clearly and crisply. Thank you Sir.

How I mised this amazing pic, TFS Ori

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