Home | E-mail | Plant files | Mail Sale Catalogue | Links | Information | Search

All the information and photos in cactus art files are now available also in the new the Encyclopaedia of Succulents. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.


Orbea variegata
(Syn. Stapelia variegata)


Cultivation and Mail Sale
of Cacti and Succulents.

A nice dark flowering clone traditionally grown for generation in the country houses of Northern Italy.
This plant is rustic, simple to cultivate, healthy with wonderful flowers. Tolerate quite cold temperature, light frost is not a problem .


Unripe pod
(Photo by Jan Gielkens )

Description:  Soft stemmed succulent each stem can reach over 25 cm, Stems erect or prostrate, branched above ground. Sprawling and decumbent, toothed, grey  green mottled purple in full sun. In age forms big clumps.
The typical flower is 5-7 cm across with 5 blunt lobes, starfish-like, attractively patterned or dusted with chocolate/purple, brown/bronze blotches on a greenish-yellow background, mostly in 6-7 rows or irregularly scattered, Corolla rugose, with a yellow central disc (annulus) speckled with dark spots. flowers coming in late summer or fall, have a light carrion smell.
It is quite free flowering if in direct sunlight.  The plant can readily set seed, after the fecundation the carpels develop long cylindrical fruits up to 12 cm long, these need to be contained when they ripen, because as soon as the fruit opens it liberate a cloud of flying seed provided whit a white feathery cotton fluff. The seeds can float from the pods and drift around the greenhouse on the slightest breeze.

Cultivation:  Very easy to grow, it is the ideal plant for beginners, needs Light shade to full sun (but tolerate shadow), very  resistant to heat will also tolerate quite cold temperatures and light frost too (in good condition), best in a ventilated environment. It is quite resistant to the “Balck spot” disease of Asclepiads, Water regularly during the growing season, keep dry in winter. Use a gritty, well-drained soil pH 7.5 to 8,5 (mildly alkaline). It is easily propagated by removing a cutting, sometimes with roots attached, in spring and summer, But seeds germinate readily if they are sown when fresh.

Flower close up


Photo gallery: Alphabetical listing of Cactus and Succulent pictures published in this site.

Photo gallery ORBEA




Family: Asclepiadaceae (Apocynaceae)  (Milkweeds family)
Scientific Name: Orbea variegata (L) Haworth 1812
Syn.Pl.Succ.40 (1812)

Common Names include: Carrion cactus, Toad Cactus, Toad Plant, Starfish Cactus, Starfish Plant

Synonym: Stapelia variegata Linnaeus 1753
in: Species Plantarum (1753)

Etymology: The generic name "Orbea" derives from the Latin word “Orbis” meaning "circle, disc",  referring to the thickened corolla part - the annulus -surrounding the flower centre. ( The genus name implies: "circle").  The specific name "variegata" derives from the Latin passive verb participle “variegatus” meaning “to make or be different colours, to variegate”
( The specific name implies:
"variegated" ) *very variable

* = But more probably the specific name "variegata" don’t refers to the colour of the flowers of this fascinating plant, currently it is generally accepted that it means "the varied Stapelia" – because this species is


Orbea variegata
is almost certainly the most common Asclepiad in cultivation, even if it is still often seen under its earlier name of Stapelia variegata. (name given by Linnaeus) nowadays it is possible to find plants with both names in collections. And for the reason of the variability of the species, many could believe they have two different genera represented.
It is the first Stapelia that has reached Europe, it was introduced into cultivation in 1639, It arrived through a collection by the missionary Justus Heurnius. It is extremely variable, everything about this species is variable – size, shape, colour, corona, stems, habit; it is almost impossible to find two plants that are exactly identical one to each other. Earlier there were close to 50 varieties listed butall have now been taken back into the single species


A very rare double flowering form
(Photo by Brian )

Here a few of the many synonyms for Stapelia variegata (orbea):
  • anguinea Jacq.
  • atrata Tod.
  • atropurpurea Salm-Dyck
  • beffoniana Schultes
  • bidentata Hort. ex Salm-Dyck
  • bifolia Schultes nom. nud.
  • bisulca Schultes
  • buffoniana G. Don
  • buffonis Lodd.
  • bufonia Jacq.
  • bufonis Sims
  • ciliolata Tod.
  • ciliolulata Tod. ex Rüst
  • clypeata J. Donn, num. nud.
  • clypeata Jacq.
  • conspurcata Willd.
  • curtisii Schultes.
  • .....and all the other

The photo of the unripe Orbea pod and double flowering form in this page courteously provided by Jan Gielkens and Brian.

Home | E-mail | Plant files | Mail Sale Catalogue | Links | Information | Search

All the information and photos in cactus art files are now available also in the new the Encyclopaedia of Succulents. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.