A photo provided by Tao Wen shows a Welwitschia, a two-leafed plant that grows in parts of the Namib Desert in southern Africa, which can live for more than 1,000 years. (Tao Wen via The New York Times)

The longest-lived leaves in the plant kingdom can be found only in the harsh, hyperarid desert that crosses the boundary between southern Angola and northern Namibia.

A desert is not, of course, the most hospitable place for living things to grow, let alone leafy greens, but the Namib Desert — the world’s oldest, with parts receiving less than 2 inches of precipitation a year — is where Welwitschia calls home.

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In Afrikaans, the plant is named “tweeblaarkanniedood,” which means “two

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