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  Stapelia gigantea N. E. Br.
  Family Name : Apocynaceae

  Synonyms : Stapelia tarantuloides, Stapelia cyclista, Stapelia youngii, Stapelia meintjesii, Stapelia marlothii, Stapelia gigantea var. pallida

  Common Names : Carrion Flower, Giant Toad Flower, Starfish Flower, Zulu Giant, Dead Horse Plant

Carrion Flower,Giant Toad Flower,Starfish Flower,Zulu Giant,Dead Horse Plant
  • Record Info
  • Life Stage & Characteristics
    • Plant Division :
      Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
      Plant Growth Form :
      Shrub (Trailing)
      Lifespan (in Singapore) :
      Mode of Nutrition :
      Plant Shape :
      Maximum Height :
      0.2 m to 0.3 m
      Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width :
      1 m
  • Biogeography
    • Native Distribution :
      South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland
      Preferred Climate Zone :
  • Description & Ethnobotany
    • Plant Morphology :
      Growth Form: Cactus-like succulent shrub with shallow root systen, up to 0.3m tall and 1m wide under ideal conditions.
      Foliage: Reduced to very small (0.5mm), dry papery remnants at tips of stem tubercles, no longer photosynthetic.
      Stems: Finger-like, fleshy, 4-sided, spineless but ridged with 'teeth' (tubercles), texture somewhat velvety. Bruised surfaces exude milky white sap. Stems serve as water storage and photosynthetic tissue for plant, green when plant is supplied with sufficient water, turn reddish or brown during drought-stress. Stems start branching near base of plant to form clumps, rooting whenever they touch the ground.
      Flowers: This species produces the largest flowers of all existing succulents in the world. Flower buds big and inflated. Individual open flowers 20-40cm across, star-shaped, very showy, cream-coloured with crimson to brownish transverse lines and deep red central disk. Texture leathery, edged with profuse hairs along margins. Scented like rotten animal carcass, attract pollinator carrion-flies and bluebottles, which are sometimes fooled into laying eggs amongst the hairs of the flower.
      Fruits: Explosive seedpods (follicles), produced in pairs and united at base, resembling goat's horns, containing small flat, tufted seeds that are dispersed by wind.
      [Others]: Note: Previously placed in Asclepiadaceae family. Latest accepted family name is Apocynaceae.
      Habitat :
      Dry forests and open bushland or savannah areas, establishing under light shade of trees or on flat ground with broken grass cover.
      Cultivation :
      Takes full sun to light shade. Prefers well-drained, loose loamy to sandy-rocky soils. Water plant only when soil is thoroughly dry. Stems tend to rot in waterlogged and moist conditions, can be saved if rotten parts are cut off, and healthy sections allowed to callus for 2-3 weeks before planting. Propagate by seeds or stem cuttings (let callus form before planting in well-drained media).
      Etymology :
      Genus epithet 'Staphelia' named by father of modern taxonomy Linnaeus in honour of Dutch botanist and physician Johannes Bodaeus van Stapel (1602-1636), who discovered a related species in South Africa. Species epithet 'gigantea' means 'gigantic', a reference to the large flowers of the plant.
      Ethnobotanical Uses :
  • Landscaping Features
    • Desirable Plant Features :
      Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Stems, Fragrant (Flowers: Day)
      Plant & Rootzone Preference/Tolerance :
      Dry Soils / Drought, Well-Drained Soils, Shallow Media (8 -10cm)
      Landscape Uses :
      Green Roof, Focal Plant, Container Planting, Hanging Basket
  • Fauna, Pollination & Dispersal
    • Pollination Method(s) :
      Biotic (Fauna) (Carrion Insects (Carrion Fly, Carrion Beetle))
  • Plant Care & Propagation
    • Light Preference :
      Full Sun
      Water Preference :
      Moderate Water, Little Water
      Maintenance Requirements :
      Propagation Method :
      Stem Cutting, [Remarks] (Let cuttings callus up for 2 - 3 weeks before planting.)
  • Foliar
    • Foliar Modification :
      Reduced / Needle-like
  • Non-Foliar & Storage
    • Stem Type & Modification :
      Root Type :
      Underground (Fibrous Root)
  • Floral (Angiosperm)
    • Flower & Plant Sexuality :
      Bisexual Flowers
      Flower Colour(s) :
      Brown, Cream / Off-White, Red
      Flower Symmetry :
      Flowering Habit :

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