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Stapelia grandiflora (Giant Toad Plant, Starfish Cactus)


Scientific Name

Stapelia grandiflora Masson

Common Names

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


Stapelia ambigua, Stapelia flavirostris

Scientific Classification

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


Stapelia grandiflora is a tufted creeping or procumbent cactus-like plant that trail and hang down over the pot. It can form large clusters up to 20 inches (50 cm) in diameter (or more). The stem is up to 4 inches (10 cm) tall, pale green or reddish and slightly furrowed with upright hooks along the ridges. The flowers are large and showy star-fish shaped, intermittently produced throughout the late summer and autumn, and up to 6 inches (15 cm) across. The fruits are typical twin seed horns (follicles), which are decorative in themselves and often don't appear until a year later.

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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 Africa (Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Free State).


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