Thursday, September 12, 2013

Big Smelly Succulent Flowers

Stapelia  gigantea

If you like LARGE flowers, you will love the flowers of Stapelia gigantea.  If you like FRAGRANT flowers, you will NOT like Stapelia gigantea.  Here we have a succulent plant with large  flowers, that resemble, and smell like, the decaying carcass of a dead animal.  Why?

The answer lies in the type of insect that pollinates Stapelia gigantea.  Perhaps you have already guessed, the pollinators are flies.  Indeed, if you have a flowering Stapelia gigantea, you will find a constant stream of flies coming to the flowers, and the flowers themselves inhabited by fly maggots. 

If you have space, a lot of sun, and warm temperatures, Stapelia gigantea is easy to grow.  Provide plenty of water during the spring and summer growing period, and keep drier and warm over the winter.  If you have Stapelia gigantea and it has never flowered for you, you are probably not providing enough sun.

Stapelia gigantea is native to large areas of south-central and south-eastern Africa.


  1. This is the most exotic plant I've seen so far. And apparently only to be grown outside. :)
    And here i thought crassula rupestris was smelly! The unusual beauty of the flowers makes it worth it anyway~

    PS: commenting via chrome browser seems to work!

    1. You realize it has evolved to look and smell like a dead animal carcass. But yes, it is rather exotic looking. When in flower, it is ALWAYS outside! It is an unusual beauty, especially in terms of flower size. Don't you want a cutting? :D

  2. I do like Stapelia flowers but you know when a flower has opened when entering the greenhouse. Very impressive flower. How big.

  3. Hi Alain. The Stapelia gigantea flowers are really big. I haven't measured this year's flowers but the biggest one last year was 22.8 cm from petal tip to petal tip. It is one of the largest plant flowers in the world. Of course it is no where as large as Rafflesia, which can reach 90 cm across, or Amorphophallus titanium, the "corpse flower" which technically is a cluster of small flowers, but it very large and very impressive. All in all, Stapelia gigantea is a neat and interesting succulent.

  4. The perfect flower for a Halloween Garden, especially if you are inviting some zombies over for the party! (You know the song from Plants vs. Zombies, "There's a zombie on your lawn....")