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Stapelia grandiflora (Giant Toad Plant)


Scientific Name

Stapelia grandiflora Masson

Common Names

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


Stapelia ambigua, Stapelia flavirostris

Scientific Classification

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


Stapelia grandiflora is a succulent plant with tufted stems that trail and hang down over the pot. It forms large clusters up to 20 inches (50 cm) in diameter. The stems are up to 4 inches (10 cm) tall, pale green or reddish, and slightly furrowed with upright hooks along the ridges. Flowers are large and showy, starfish-shaped, and up to 6 inches (15 cm) across and are intermittently produced throughout the late summer and fall. Fruits are typical twin seed horns, which are decorative in themselves and often do not appear until a year later.

Stapelia grandiflora (Giant Toad Plant)


USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °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 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 succulent soil mix is essential, and clay pots are advisable for the more delicate species. Some growers prefer mineral-only soil to minimize the chance of a fungal attack on the roots. A layer of grit on the soil's surface prevents moisture from accumulating around the base of 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.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Stapelia.


Stapelia grandiflora is native to South Africa (Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and Free State).


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