Giant Starfish Flower or Stapelia gigantea
Written by Georgianne Kennedy Tuesday, 15 December 2009 01:34
December 14, 2009
My curiosity was excited when pointed balloons emerged from small spiny succulent fingers in our sunny rock garden. The next day, one had obviously burst open; what looked like a starfish was lying on the garden floor! I was not expecting beauty from such an innocuous plant.
Not everyone would put their nose right up to a plant known as the Carrion-Flower, but I wanted to know if it was true. Yes, it does have a slight odour, powerful enough to attract pollinating flies by the dozen, but not strong enough to bother me. Stapelia gigantea is also known as the Starfish Flower, a more appealing name, in my humble opinion. The shallow open cup is 10 to 12 inches wide, lined with long red hairs. Stapelias thrive in hot weather and rocky soil, making Discovery Bay an ideal environment. We receive very little rainfall so xeric plants are highly valued in the garden. They are easy to propagate by division as gifts for admiring visitors. I do hope more blooms will come out on show while family and friends are here for Christmas.
Stapelia is in the Milkweed Subfamily of APOCYNACEAE. Most species in this group attract Monarch and Viceroy Butterflies, so I will be watching for them.
Giant Starfish Flower (or Carrion-Flower) emerging