Stapelia varieties

Stapelia gigantea

Stapelias are South African plants with short, succulent stems that often branch to form a carpet. Their most attractive feature are their large flowers which grow from the base of the plant, only rarely at the top. Their disadvantage, however, is their unpleasant odour. The stems of 5. gigantea are winged on the edges and covered with minute, distant teeth. The long-stalked flowers may be up to 35 cm (14 in) across. The corolla lobes have long, very narrow points; they are pale yellow with short, black, wavy, transverse stripes.

It is an undemanding plant that will grow in sun as well as partial shade, in heavy, clay soil as well as in light, sandy compost. In winter, either transfer the plant to a cool position and water very sparingly, or leave it in its permanent location and water normally. Propagation by vegetative means or from seeds is not difficult. Separate stem segments and leave them to dry for several days before inserting them in compost. Seeds will germinate at a temperature of 20-25° C (68°-77°F).

Stapelia grandiflora

This Stapelia has quadrangular stems covered with fine hairs. The edges have spiny teeth spaced far apart. These teeth bear minute, scale-like leaves that soon drop. The flowers, about 15 cm (6 in) in diameter, are flat with short tubes and covered with long hairs. The corolla lobes are dark purple above with yellowish transverse stripes, and blue-green beneath.

Stapelia variegata

The Carrion Plant is the most common species of Stapelia. It readily cross-breeds with the other species. It forms large clumps of fleshy stems coloured green or grey-green, often reddish. The flowers, sometimes as many as five, are 5-9 cm (2-3 ½ inch) across and appear in late summer or early autumn. The corolla lobes, spotted yellow and brown, are broadly ovate, bluntly pointed at the tip, and transversely tubercled so that they appear to be wrinkled. The marked variability of the flowers is why the species includes many varieties. Var. atropurpurea has brownish-red tubercles on the corolla lobes.

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