Stapelia Plant Profile
Stapelia are originally from South Africa and with about 45 species in the genus they are of interest to collectors and gardeners alike. These are a very low growing, spineless succulent sometimes known as ‘carrion flowers’ due to the smell of the flowers.
These are a clump forming plant, in cultivation they are mainly grown in containers. The flowers are star shaped which gives them the common name of ‘starfish flowers’.
Some are renowned for the flowers, and it is usually the smell rather than the beauty. They create an odour that attracts flies that act as pollinators.
The flowers vary in color from white to yellow and pink, many with contrasting spots or markings.
With many species, this is a fairly diverse genus.
- Stapelia grandiflora or ‘Carrion flower’ is an interesting species, with club-shaped, hairy stems to 20cm (8″) tall. The star-shaped flowers are purple-brown marbled with yellow. The odour of these flowers is very offensive!
- S. variegata has white flowers heavily flecked with maroon to brown.
- S. hirsuta has flowers that produce a deep pink to red fluffy growth from the centre.
- S. gigantea is a variable species, some with yellow flowers patterned with maroon, others have large creamy white flowers flecked with grey to blue.
- S. olivacea has deep maroon flowers.
- S. leendertziae is unusual with bell shaped flowers, deep purple to maroon.
Other species include: S. asterias, S. gettliffei, , S. macowanii and S. mutabilis
Growing conditions and care for Stapelia.
All species require a well drained soil and a sunny position, good ventilation is also important. Remember not to over water.
They like good strong indirect light and dry, not humid conditions. Over watering is the most common problem as this cuases the stems to rot.
The flowers of S. gigantea can reach up to 40cm across, they are fascinating and will no doubt attract attention, however remember they do smell