The genus includes about 99 species. They carry remarkablewhich 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 , the edges of which bear fleshy tooth-like points, representing the rudiments of . 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 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 of 2 parts loam, 2 parts soil, 3 parts sharp sand, and 1 part broken brick, and should be repotted every year.
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 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.