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Orbea distincta


Scientific Name

Orbea distincta (E.A. Bruce) Bruyns


Angolluma distincta, Caralluma distincta, Pachycymbium distinctum, Ceropegia distinctantha

Scientific Classification

Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Tribe: Ceropegieae
Subtribe: Stapeliinae
Genus: Orbea


Orbea distincta is a succulent plant with trailing, branched, pale green, grey-green, or olive-green stems, cylindrical in cross-section, mottled or streaked darker green and maroon. Each branch is up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) long, up to 0.3 inches (8 mm) in diameter, with well-developed, tapering, alternating pairs of teeth. Flowers are erect, usually bicolored with the brown or carmine color on the lobes fading to pale creamy-yellow within the tube.

Orbea distincta

Photo by Cok Grootscholten


USDA hardiness zone 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Several species are fairly easy to grow. Others, often those with slightly hairy stems and the more unusual flowers, are more challenging and require careful watering (with some fertilizer) during the growing season and complete withdrawal of water during the winter months. A minimum winter temperature of 10°C (50°F) is acceptable, providing that plants are kept absolutely dry. A heated growing bench or incubator may help delicate plants to get through the colder months. However, many species live under shrubs in habitat and prefer light shade rather than full sun.

A gritty compost is essential, and clay pots are advisable for the more delicate species. Some growers prefer a mineral-only compost to minimize the chance of a fungal attack on the roots. A layer of grit on the surface of the compost prevents moisture from accumulating around the base of the stems.

Keeping Stapelias and their roots free of pests such as mealybugs is the real key to success as fungal attack often occurs due to damage to stems by insects. See more at How to Grow and Care for Stapelia.


It is native to Tanzania and Kenya.


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