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Stapelia gigantea – Starfish Flower, Zulu Giant


Scientific Name

Stapelia gigantea N. E. Br.

Common Names

Starfish Plant, Starfish Flower, Carrion Plant, Carrion Flower, Giant Toad Plant, Toad Plant, Zulu Giant


Stapelia cyclista, Stapelia marlothii, Stapelia meintjesii, Stapelia nobilis, Stapelia tarantuloides, Stapelia youngii

Scientific Classification

Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Tribe: Stapeliae
Genus: Stapelia


Stapelia gigantea is a clump-forming succulent with fat, green, erect, deeply ribbed stems, up to 8 inches (20 cm) tall and 1.2 inches (3 cm) thick. The flowers are large, star-shaped 5-petalled, up to 14 inches (35 cm) in diameter, pale yellow in color, with transverse crimson lines variable in color and covered with purplish or crimson hairs.

Stapelia gigantea - Starfish Flower, Zulu Giant

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 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 mealy bugs is the real key to success as fungal attack often occurs as a result of damage to stems by insects… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Stapelia.


Native to south eastern Africa (Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa).


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