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Starfish Flower

Stapelia hirsuta

Also known as

Carrion-Flower, Hairy Starfish-Flower, Hairy Toadplant, Shaggy Stapelia

Partial Shade
Easy care
Moderate watering


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size









  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a strong fragrance

Starfish Flower Overview

Stapelia hirsuta is a widely distributed, low, perennial succulent and extremely variable, with five recognizable varieties and is closely related to S. grandiflora. The stems are almost always erect and are usually uniformly green to reddish, depending on the extent of exposure to the sun. Only rarely are they mottled with red or purple on green. The flowers are cream-coloured, purple at the centre, with purplish horizontal lines on the lobes which have purple-brown tips. The flowering period extends from late summer to late autumn. Characterized by their foul-smelling flowers reminiscent of the odour of rotting meat attracking pollinators. The hairs, coloration and surface mimic decaying animal matter and attract mostly flies, which act as pollinators. The strong carrion scent is sometimes recognizable at a great distance, especially on hot afternoons.

Common problems with Starfish Flower

Rotting is the biggest problem to avoid.

    Starfish Flower Companion Plants

    Plant with other succulents in rockeries.

    How to harvest Starfish Flower

    Unlike other succulent cuttings that are planted in sand to encourage rooting, these plants prefer to lie on top of the ground, rooting where they fall without planting. Planting cuttings makes them far more prone to rot.

    How to propagate Starfish Flower


    Allow cutting wound to heal for a week or two and then place in well-draining sandy soil mixture. Do not cover, but allow new roots to develop and anchor the new plant.


    Sow in Spring and allow seed to rest on top of the ground where they will root. Germination 100% if sown when fresh.

    Special features of Starfish Flower

    Drought resistant

    They are excellent subjects for a water-wise garden, they can go for extended periods without water.

    Pot plant

    The small-flowered species are suitable as container plants.

    Other uses of Starfish Flower

    Houseplant, Rock Garden / Wall


    These plants are mainly sought by collectors of succulent plants.

    Attracts food for birds.

    When in full flower, pollinators are attracted by the odour. For the eco-friendly gardener this is a way of attracting food for birds and reptiles such as lizards to the garden.

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