Stapelia sp. (Carrion or Starfish Plant).

Our Stapelia plant is flowering. The flowers are star-shaped, hairy and smell like rotting flesh. The colour is dark red like the colour of meat. Though the smell is not as strong as Corpse flower (Titan arum), it is good enough to fool some flies. Flies think that the flower is some kind of rotting carcass, so they lay their eggs/maggots inside the flower. So the missions are accomplished for the plant! The flies have helped the flower with polination. When I took the pictures yesterday, I saw tiny maggots near the stamens inside the flower. Not very long they will die as there are nothing for them to eat in there, within 3 or 4 days the flower will also wilt away.

Stapelia Plant

  • Stapelia is originally from southern Africa and also known as Carrion or Starfish flowers.
  • There are about 40 species.
  • It is succulent plant and not a cactus.
  • Attractive fleshy, smooth and spineless velvety long stems which can grow to about 20 cm long. Green or grey-green with purple tinge in colour.
  • Large flowers and the flower buds grow like balloons before they open.
  • The flowers are hairy, mostly are 5 points starshaped. Once open, they will last for a few days (3-4 days).
  • The flowers come in many different colours: dark red/maroon, yellow, cream, greenish or spotted/mottled.
  • It needs similar growing requirements as other succulents. Sandy but rich well drain soil.
  • Full sun position, keep in sunny place indoor in winter.
  • Much less water during cold season.
  • Liquid fertilizer during the growing season.

Stapelia Flower Bud

Stapelia sp. just about to open.

Star-shaped Stapelia sp.

A fly is attracted to the flower.

Maggots inside the flower.

The Amazing Wonder of Nature….. Sometimes it is just bizarre!