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Stapelia leendertziae (Black Bells)


Scientific Name

Stapelia leendertziae N.E. Br.

Common Names

Black Bells, Maroon Cup Starfish, Rugose Cup Starfish, Star Flower, Carrion Flower


Stapelia wilmaniae, Ceropegia leendertziae

Scientific Classification

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


Stapelia leendertziae is a succulent plant with long, erect, angular, dull green to reddish stems. It is most conspicuous when in flower due to the unique large, bell-shaped, deep reddish to dark purple, and up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) long flowers.

The specific epithet "leendertziae" honors Reino Leendertz, later Mrs. Pott (1869–1965), a Dutch botanist and the first official botanist employed at the Transvaal Museum who first discovered the species at Heidelberg.

Stapelia leendertziae (Black Bells)

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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  50 °F (10 °C) 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 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 compost'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. See more at How to Grow and Care for Stapelia.


Stapelia leendertziae is native to Swaziland.



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