Stapelia hirsuta L.
African Starfish flowers, Carrion Plant, Starfish Flower, Hairy Stapelia
Ceropegia pulvinata, Gonostemon hirsutus, Stisseria hirsuta, Stapelia hirsuta var. hirsuta
Stapelia hirsuta is an attractive succulent that forms dense clumps of erect, greyish-green to green stems suffused or mottled with red. The stems are subquadrangular, up to 8 inches (20 cm) tall, and up to 8 inches (2 cm) thick.
The flowers are large, red-purple with yellow bands, very hairy, and appear from late summer through late fall. They are up to 5.6 inches (14 cm) across.
This species is highly variable and has various subspecies and many hybrids.
USDA hardiness zones 10b to 11b: from 35 °F (+1.7 °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 water withdrawal 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 their 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 the stems.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Stapelia.
Stapelia hirsuta is native to South Africa and Namibia. It occurs from Rosh Pinah in Nambia to Vredendal and Malmesbury in Western Cape and Humansdorp in Eastern Cape, growing on stony, often sandstone slopes.
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