Stapelia olivacea N.E. Br.
African Starfish Flower, Carrion Flower
Gonostemon olivaceus, Ceropegia olivacea
Stapelia olivacea is a low-growing succulent with spineless stems and small, darker maroon-red, almost flat flowers with white hairs along the margins. It grows up to 4 inches (10 cm) tall, forming attractive, neat clumps. Stems are grayish along the flanks, with the grooves in between a darker green, sometimes purplish.
The specific epithet "olivacea" refers to the olive-green color used in the first painting of this species.
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 water withdrawal 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 their 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 mineral-only compost to minimize the chance of a fungal attack on the roots. A layer of grit on the compost surface 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 attacks often result from damage to stems by insects.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Stapelia.
This species is native to South Africa (Eastern Cape, Free State, Northern Cape, and Western Cape).
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