Also known as
Carrion-Flower, Hairy Starfish-Flower, Hairy Toadplant, Shaggy Stapelia
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
They are excellent subjects for a water-wise garden, they can go for extended periods without water.
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.