Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What a surprise!

Three days after my friend Susan posted a picture of her Stapelia gigantea blossom, my Stapelia flowered too!

Until I saw the picture Susan posted on the Florida Flora Facebook page I had been feeling undecided whether or not I would even keep the plant which I had gotten about a year ago at a local plant exchange.  I had no idea what kind of succulent it was, how big it would grow or the type of care it required.  Before seeing Susan's post, I didn't even know it bloomed.  Fortunately, I saw the picture and realized I had the same plant.

As it turns out, Stapelia gigantea, commonly known as Starfish Flower and Giant Zulu, is a clumping succulent with upright green stems.  Native to the desert climate of southeastern Africa, Stapelia gigantea is a carrion plant, which means when it blooms it exudes an odor that smells like rotting meat.  The putrid smell attracts flies that land inside the bloom and wander around in search of the food that they think is there. As they do so, pollen collects on their feet. When they fly off again, they transfer pollen to the next bloom.

The flower, a large, five-pointed blossom edged with white hairs is a annual occurrence that doesn't last long.  After noticing Susan's post and reading comments made by other members of Florida Flora, I went outside to check my own plant where much to my surprise, I saw a bulging appendage that I had never seen before.

Needless to say, I watched it closely. Within a day, the pale green bulge grew bigger until it finally burst open revealing a pink and white speckled interior with a magenta center.

Although I never noticed an offensive odor in Stapelia gigantea, I'm hoping some flies did.


  1. Replies
    1. Did it smell? Well, not to my nose, but that's not unusual. My allergies and constant stuffiness means I miss many odors that other people smell. However, in this case, maybe that was a good thing. :)

  2. I first saw this one while living on St. Croix. It just appeared, like you note, a strange protrubance from a plant in one of the gardens but for me, OH THE SMELL!!! Rotten, nasty smell for such an exotic looking bloom. This was in a small inn I managed and a few of the guests asked me if there was something dead nearby, while others didn't notice it at all. Strange strange plant.

    1. What's even more weird is that I didn't smell it. I guess that's one good thing about allergies and a stuffy nose. And yet, when I come upon a stinkhorn mushroom - another stinky plant - I can smell its odor without problem. Another one of nature's mysteries, I guess.