|Produce grandi fiori a forma di stella marina di colore bruno-purpureo con corrugazioni trasversali brune o bianchiccie. I fiori sono ricoperti da lunghi peli color porpora e il centro assomiglia alla pelliccia di un animale morto. |
Scientific name: Stapelia grandiflora Masson
In: Stapel. Nov., 13, t. 11, 1797
Origin: Southern Africa (Northern cape, Eastern Cape and Free State)
Common names: Carrion Flower, Star Fish Flower, Giant Zulu, Giant toad plant.
- Gonostemon grandiflorus (Masson) P. V. Heath
- Stapelia ambigua Masson
In: Stapel. 13. t. 12 Hort. Kew. ed. 2. v. 2. p. 86.A
A plant grown in ground (Madeira island) in bloom and with a mature follicle full of seed.
(Photo Ricardo - Madeira Island - Portugal)
Habit: Tufted creeping or procumbent cactus-like plant that trail and hang down over the pot with large and showy star-fish shaped flowers. It can form large clusters up to 50 cm in diameter (or more). Stapelia grandiflora is a very variable species with many hybrids both in the wild and in cultivation. This specie meets and intergrade with Stapelia hirsuta in the little Karoo and the two (quite similar) species can be separated by its thicker pedicel up to 4-5 mm long.
Stems: About 9-10 cm hight. Soft, pale green or reddish and slightly furrowed with upright hooks along the ridges. Stems are quadrangular lengthwise, a factor which allows expansion and contraction to compensate without harm for any excess or shortness of fluids inside; hence they may appear flat- or sunken-sided according to the availability of water. This is the "succulence" and a storehouse for nutrients, which are crucial to their survival in harsh, xeric habitats.
Leaves: Short lived, rudimentary.
Flower: Blooms are produced from the base on younger shoots, they are large, flat, star fish-shaped, orange, dark-red, deep brown-purple to chocolate, with transverse brow to whitish corrugation and densely covered by long purplish hairs at the centre that remember the fur of a dead animal. Undersides red to greenish. Corolla width very variable, from 5-15 cm (usually10/12 cm) across and very deeply lobed. The moderate carrion smell of the flowers attracts flies which may lay eggs on the flower. Sometimes fly larvae that have hatched from the eggs can be seen on the flower. Flowers are smaller than those of Stapelia gigantea. Buds plump peaked that resemble the domes of a Russian Orthodox church.
Fruit: Flies pollinate the flowers resulting in the typical twin seed horns (follicles), which are decorative in themselves and often don't appear until a year later.
Blooming season: Blossoming time: Flowers are intermittently produced throughout the late summer and autumn.
(Photo Evagoras Vryonides - Canada)
The white corpuscle are carrion fly eggs. The flies are attracted by the the flowers that smell like death, and frequently they deposes their eggs on the furry surface. Flies are wholly deceived and believe that the flower is the carrion of a dead animal.
In this corolla of Stapelia grandiflora a female of "green-bottle fly" (Lucilia sp.) comes to ovideposit a new packet of eggs... note that a lot of eggs (the white masses) were deposed before by another flies
A flowers visited by ant (Myrmecophily ?)
Photo By Viviana Argentina
A pollinating fly on a flower of Stapelia grandiflora
(Photo Andrea B. Italy)
(Photo Evagoras Vryonides - Canada)
Cultivation: Together with Stapelia gigantea and Orbea variegata, probably the most widely cultivated of stapeliads. It is an easy obliging blooming plant when mature, they are happy in any average succulent house.
Stapelia require moderately watering through the growing season but enjoy plenty of water and some fertiliser in hot weather, this helps them to flower freely. Water more sparingly in winter according to temperatures. But, as with most asclepiads, it is unwise to leave them wet in cold weather. Winter care presents no problems at 5°C with plenty of light. Since roots are quite shallow, use a cactus mix or add extra perlite or pumice to regular soil potting soil. A gritty, very free-draining compost is suitable, and clay pots help the plants to dry out between watering.
Sun Exposure: Partial sun or light shade
Pest and diseases: Stapelia species vary in their susceptibility to rotting, but are generally fairly easy to grow, especially if kept pest-free. They are very susceptible to stem and root mealy bugs, and damage from these may well initiate fungal attack. If you do have problems with a stem or with basal rotting, you can reliably isolate the healthy parts, dry them off, and re-root them in moist compost. Cultural Practices: Re-pot every 2 years.
Propagation: Easiest with stem cuttings. Allow cuttings to dry a day before planting. Stems must be laid (Not buried) on gritty compost and will then root from the underside of the stems. It can also be increased from seeds sowing in spring in moist, sandy peat moss. Barely cover seeds. Seeds germinate