Stapelia gigantea N.E. Br.
Stapelia nobilis N.E. Br.
Carrion Flower, Zulu Giant
Carrion flowers are so named because their flowers emit an odor reminiscent of a rotting carcass, attracting flies that pollinate it. It is a native of South Africa, not found in the wild in North America.
Identification: Stapelia gigantea is a succulent that resembles cactus, but it is not a member of the cactus family. Its stems are glossy dark green, four-sided, looking like a four-pointed star in cross-section, ¾-1½" (1.9-3.8 cm) around. Plants are 6-12" (15-30 cm) tall. There are no spines, but there are regular nubs along the stems. If you are lucky enough to see this plant flowering, the flowers are truly amazing. They are bold five-pointed stars, cream-colored, enormous in proportion to the rest of the plant, 10-16" (25-40 cm) across. Wavy red lines form a series of broken concentric circles on the flower, and coarse white hairs are present. The red lines can appear thicker and purpler, making the entire flower look purple. Overall, the flowers resemble a fat, all-devouring starfish. The odor for which the plant is named is certainly present, but not strong enough to be disagreeable.
Stapelia gigantea on Desert-tropicals.com
Stapelia gigantea on Plants are the Strangest People
Stapelia gigantea on the Encyclopedia of Life
Stapelia gigantea at the Columbus Cactus Club
Stapelia gigantea description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.