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Stapelia olivacea (African Starfish Flower)

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Scientific Name

Stapelia olivacea N.E. Br.

Common Names

African Starfish Flower, Carrion Flower

Synonyms

Gonostemon olivaceus, Ceropegia olivacea

Scientific Classification

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

Description

Stapelia olivacea is a low-growing, spineless, stem succulent with small, darker maroon-red, almost flat flowers with white hairs along the margins. The color is very variable. The stems are grayish along the flanks, with the grooves in between a darker green, sometimes purplish. They form attractive, neat clumps up to 4 inches (10 cm) tall. The epithet refers to the olive-green color used in the first painting of this species.

Photo via llifle.com

Hardiness

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 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 mealybugs 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

Origin

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

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