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Stapelia gigantea

Stapelia gigantea N.E. Br.

Stapelia nobilis N.E. Br.

Carrion Flower, Zulu Giant

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderGentianalesGentians, coffee, gardenias, frangipani, many others
FamilyAsclepiadaceaeIncludes some herbs, twining shrubs, lianas, leafless stem succulents, rarely trees
GenusStapelia
Speciesgigantea

About plant names...

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.

Online References:

Stapelia gigantea on Desert-tropicals.com

Stapelia gigantea on Plants are the Strangest People

Stapelia gigantea on EOL: the Encyclopedia of Life

Stapelia gigantea at the Columbus Cactus Club

Stapelia gigantea (Carrion Flower, Zulu Giant)

12/25/2007 · Pepperell, MA
≈ 15 × 10" (37 × 24 cm)

Stapelia gigantea (Carrion Flower, Zulu Giant)

9/17/2007 · Pepperell, MA
≈ 14 × 10" (36 × 24 cm)

Stapelia gigantea (Carrion Flower, Zulu Giant)

11/6/2008 · Pepperell, MA
≈ 17 × 14" (42 × 34 cm)

Stapelia gigantea description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Stapelia gigantea (Carrion Flower, Zulu Giant)

11/6/2008 · Pepperell, MA
≈ 2½ × 2½" (6.6 × 6.7 cm)

Stapelia gigantea (Carrion Flower, Zulu Giant)

12/25/2007 · Pepperell, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (20 × 13 cm)

Stapelia gigantea (Carrion Flower, Zulu Giant)

9/17/2007 · Pepperell, MA
≈ 27 × 18" (67 × 45 cm)

Range:

About this map...