STAPELIA

The genus includes about 99 species. They carry remarkable flowers which have carrion odours. They are endemic to semi-arid regions from India to S. Africa. The Stapelias are plants of low growth, with soft, square leafless stems, the edges of which bear fleshy tooth-like points, representing the rudiments of leaves. The teeth are fixed in alternate pairs, two at opposite angles, and then two higher up at the other angles. The flowers appear on short stems bearing r to 4 flowers at the base of the youngest shoots. In many cases they overhang the pots in which the plants are grown. The petals are yellowish or dark brown, plain-coloured or marked with darker spots, and mostly wrinkled or grooved. Many species are suitable for growing in the window-sill. In summer, they require plenty of air, and during this growing period they should be kept moist by frequent spraying on warm days. They require a compost of 2 parts loam, 2 parts leaf soil, 3 parts sharp sand, and 1 part broken brick, and should be repotted every year.

Stapelia variegata. Often found in collections, and may be taken as the type plant of the smaller species, with medium-sized flowers. Stems 4 inches high, glaucous green, but when kept in a sunny position they sometimes turn reddish. Flowers, up to 5 in number, develop from the base of the new stems. They are 2 inches or more in diameter, swollen in a circular ring round the central part, yellowish ochre marbled with purple, and without hair.

Stapelia nobilis. Transvaal. Has pale green stems with a velvety appearance, 6 to 10 inches long, and about 1J inches diameter, with small erect teeth. The flower is very large, star-shaped, up to 8 inches in diameter, with a somewhat bell-shaped tube at the centre.

Stapelia gra.ndifl.ora. The stems are more or less club-shaped and pale green, 10 to 12 inches long and \ inches thick. The flowers, produced from the same centre, number 3 to 10, and have a diameter of about 6 inches; they have dark purple-brown petals covered with soft, shiny, reddish-brown hairs, the margins being edged with long, silvery hairs. The carrion scent in this species is only faintly noticeable.

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