Stapelia sp. is a small plant native to South Africa with distinctive star-shaped flowers in shades of red, crimson, vinous, yellow, or orange. This plant is suitable for growing in USDA hardiness zones 9-11 and can tolerate short exposures to temperatures as low as 30°F. It prefers full sun or semi-shade and requires only moderate water, making it a good choice for dry conditions. Stapelia sp. can be grown in pots and is a good container plant, but it is important to protect it from cold temperatures by bringing the pot indoors to a light-filled location during the winter months.
The flowers of Stapelia sp. can be quite large, reaching up to 8 inches in diameter, and they may be red, brown, or marbled in color. They are often hairy and are known for their malodorous aroma, which is similar to the smell of rotting meat. This plant is commonly cultivated as a pot or rockery plant in warmer regions, and it is also known by the common names "carrion flower," "giant toad flower," and "starfish flower." The flowers are pollinated by flies, which are attracted to the carrion aroma. The stems of this plant are succulent, spineless, and 4-angled, and they grow upright before sprawling sideways with the tips still erect. In the ground, this plant can grow to be 24 inches wide. The genus name, Stapelia sp., honors Dutch physician Johannes Bodaeus van Stapel.