First of all, I’d like to assure you that I have not fallen off the face of the earth. Just in case you were wondering. Secondly, I have a post about Easter waiting to be posted, which I promise I will do very, very soon. Once I get the pictures on it.
Okay. Now that that’s over…
I love trees. All plants are amazing to me, but trees are definitely special. There’s something different, something deep about them, perhaps because they live so long. At any rate, there is a book that I got for Easter called Lives of the Trees. It gives name origins, legends, descriptions, et cetera about 100 types of trees, including one called Welwitschia.
Now, the oak and the sycamore have always been special trees to me, especially the oak. But when I read about welwitschia, it touched me. It’s definitely up there with the oak now, in terms of my affinity for it. Of course, it grows in deserts in South Africa, so it’s unlikely I’ll ever see this amazing tree. But let me tell you a bit about it, and why I love it so much now.
Here’s what it looks like:
I know what you’re thinking. U-G-L-Y… And yeah, I’m not saying it’s a very pretty plant. (Though I will call it beautiful… beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, I guess.) In fact, it does not even look like a tree. This is because most of the trunk is growing underground. Only about two feet of it sticks up above the surface of the ground. It has only two leaves, which are thick and leathery, and never stop growing. It looks like more than two leaves, though, because over the years sand and wind shreds the leaves into smaller strips. This tree can live for up to a thousand years.
The Africaans word for it is Tweeblaarkanniedood, which means “two leaves that never die”.
I think that’s very compelling. Powerful. Beautiful, even, if you think of the life of this plant… Lone living thing in a vast, hot, barren world, enduring extreme temperatures and the abuse of sand and wind. Its leaves torn and shredded, yet it does not stop growing. It’s like this shy thing, buried underground, but at the same time it has the boldness to thrive despite harsh adversity.
We could learn a lot from welwitschia.