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Carrion flowers
Stapelia gigantea
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Tribe: Ceropegieae
Genus: Stapelia
Type species
Stapelia hirsuta
  • × Gonostapelia P.V.Heath (1992)
  • Gonostemma Spreng. (1830), orth. var.
  • Gonostemon Haw. (1812)
  • Stisseria Heist. ex Fabr. (1759), nom. superfl.

Stapelia is a genus of low-growing, spineless, stem succulent plants, predominantly from South Africa with a few from other parts of Africa. Several Asian and Latin American species were formerly included but they have all now been transferred to other genera.[3][4] The flowers of certain species, most notably Stapelia gigantea, can reach 41 cm (16 inches) in diameter when fully open. Most Stapelia flowers are visibly hairy and generate the odor of rotten flesh when they bloom.


The hairy, oddly textured and coloured appearance of many Stapelia flowers has been claimed to resemble that of rotting meat, and this, coupled with their odour, has earned the most commonly grown members of the genus Stapelia the common name of carrion flowers. A notable exception is the sweetly scented Stapelia flavopurpurea. Such odours serve to attract various specialist pollinators including, in the case of carrion-scented blooms, blow flies of the dipteran family Calliphoridae. They frequently lay eggs around the coronae of Stapelia flowers, convinced by the plants' deception.[5]


A handful of species are commonly cultivated as pot plants and are even used as rockery plants in countries where the climate permits. Stapelia are good container plants and can grow well under full sun and light to moderate watering. They should be planted in well-drained compost as the stems are prone to rotting if kept moist for long.[6]


32 species are accepted:[2]

  1. Stapelia acuminata Masson – South Africa
  2. Stapelia arenosa C.A.Lückh. – Cape Province
  3. Stapelia asterias Masson – South Africa
  4. Stapelia cedrimontana Frandsen – Cape Province
  5. Stapelia clavicorona I.Verd. – Transvaal
  6. Stapelia concinna Masson – South Africa
  7. Stapelia divaricata Masson – South Africa
  8. Stapelia engleriana Schltr. – tropical Africa
  9. Stapelia erectiflora N.E.Br. – South Africa
  10. Stapelia flavopurpurea Marloth – South Africa
  11. Stapelia gettliffei R.Pott – Transvaal
  12. Stapelia gigantea N.E.Br. – KwaZulu-Natal
  13. Stapelia glanduliflora Masson – South Africa
  14. Stapelia grandiflora Masson – South Africa
  15. Stapelia hirsuta L. – South Africa
  16. Stapelia kwebensis N.E.Br. – Botswana
  17. Stapelia leendertziae N.E.Br. – South Africa
  18. Stapelia × meintjiesii I.Verd.
  19. Stapelia obducta L.C.Leach – Cape Province
  20. Stapelia olivacea N.E.Br. – South Africa
  21. Stapelia paniculata Willd. – South Africa
  22. Stapelia parvula Kers – Angola
  23. Stapelia pearsonii N.E.Br. – Great Namaqualand
  24. Stapelia pillansii N.E.Br. – South Africa
  25. Stapelia remota R.A.Dyer – Namibia
  26. Stapelia rubiginosa Nel – Little Namaqualand
  27. Stapelia rufa Masson – South Africa
  28. Stapelia schinzii A.Berger & Schltr. – Namibia
  29. Stapelia similis N.E.Br. – Little Namaqualand
  30. Stapelia surrecta N.E.Br. – Cape Province
  31. Stapelia unicornis C.A.Lückh. – Eswatini
  32. Stapelia villetiae C.A.Lückh. – Cape Province
Unplaced names[2]
Species formerly included[7][2]

now transferred to other genera (Angolluma, Brachystelma, Caralluma, Duvalia, Echidnopsis, Gonolobus, Hoodia, Hoya, Huernia, Monolluma, Orbea, Orbeopsis, Pachycymbium, Piaranthus, Quaqua, Stapelianthus, Tromotriche, Tridentea, Triplosperma)

  1. S. adscendens now Caralluma adscendens
  2. S. albipilosa now Tridentea marientalensis subsp. albipilosa
  3. S. albocastanea now Orbeopsis albocastanea
  4. S. anemoniflora now Duvalia anemoniflora
  5. S. ango now Caralluma ango
  6. S. anguinea now Orbea variegata
  7. S. aperta now Tridentea aperta
  8. S. arida now Quaqua arida
  9. S. articulata now Pectinaria articulata
  10. S. atropurpurea now Orbea variegata
  11. S. atrosanguinea now Piaranthus atrosanguineus
  12. S. auobensis now Tridentea marientalensis
  13. S. ausana now Tridentea jucunda var. dinteri
  14. S. barbata now Huernia barbata
  15. S. bisulca now Orbea variegata
  16. S. bufonia now Orbea variegata
  17. S. campanulata now Huernia campanulata
  18. S. caudata now Ceropegia spathulata
  19. S. chinensis now Hoya carnosa
  20. S. choanantha now Tridentea choanantha
  21. S. chrysostephana now Angolluma chrysostephana
  22. S. ciliata now Orbea ciliata
  23. S. cincta now Tridentea jucunda var. cincta
  24. S. clavata now Trichocaulon clavatum
  25. S. clavigera now Huernia clavigera
  26. S. clypeata now Orbea variegata
  27. S. cochinchinensis now Triplosperma cochinchinensis
  28. S. compacta now Duvalia caespitosa var. compacta
  29. S. concolor now Duvalia caespitosa
  30. S. conspurcata now Orbea variegata
  31. S. cooperi now Orbea cooperi
  32. S. corderoyi now Duvalia corderoyi
  33. S. curtisii now Orbea variegata
  34. S. decaisneana now Pachycymbium decaisneanum
  35. S. decora now Piaranthus germinatus subsp. decorus
  36. S. deflexa now Orbea variegata
  37. S. dinteri now Tridentea jucunda var. dinteri
  38. S. dummeri now Orbea dummeri
  39. S. dwequensis now Tridentea dwequensis
  40. S. elegans now Duvalia elegans
  41. S. europaea now Caralluma europaea
  42. S. fucosa now Orbea verrucosa var. fucosa
  43. S. furcata now Orbeopsis melanantha
  44. S. fuscata Jacq. now Tromotriche revolut
  45. S. geminata now Piaranthus geminatus
  46. S. gemmiflora now Tridentea gemmiflora
  47. S. gettleffii now Gonostemon gettliffei
  48. S. glauca now Tromotriche revoluta
  49. S. gordonii now Hoodia gordonii
  50. S. gussoneana now Caralluma europaea
  51. S. guttata now Huernia guttata
  52. S. herrei now Tridentea herrei
  53. S. hircosa now Tridentea gemmiflora
  54. S. hirtella now Duvalia caespitosa
  55. S. incarnata now Quaqua incarnata
  56. S. irrorata now Orbea irrorata
  57. S. jacquiniana now Duvalia elegans
  58. S. jucunda now Tridentea jucunda
  59. S. knobelii now Orbeopsis knobelii
  60. S. laevis now Tromotriche pedunculata
  61. S. lepida now Orbea lepida
  62. S. longidens now Orbea longidens
  63. S. longii now Tridentea longii
  64. S. longipes now Tromotriche longipes
  65. S. macloughlinii now Orbea macloughlinii
  66. S. × maculosa now Orbea × maculosa
  67. S. mammillaris now Quaqua mammillaris
  68. S. marginata now Orbea variegata
  69. S. marientalensis now Tridentea marientalensis
  70. S. marmorata now Orbea variegata
  71. S. mastodes now Duvalia caespitosa var. compacta
  72. S. melanantha now Orbeopsis melanantha
  73. S. mixta now Orbea variegata
  74. S. montagnacii now Stapelianthus montagnacii
  75. S. multangula now Echidnopsis multangula
  76. S. namaquensis now Orbea namaquensis
  77. S. neliana now Tridentea herrei
  78. S. normalis now Orbea variegata
  79. S. obliqua now Orbea variegata
  80. S. ocellata now Huernia ocellata
  81. S. orbicularis now Orbea variegata
  82. S. pachyrrhiza now Tridentea pachyrrhiza
  83. S. pancololote now Gonolobus pancololote
  84. S. parviflora now Quaqua parviflora
  85. S. parvipuncta now Tridentea parvipuncta
  86. S. peculiaris now Tridentea peculiaris
  87. S. pedunculata now Tridentea pedunculata
  88. S. picta now Orbea variegata
  89. S. pilifera now Hoodia pilifera
  90. S. planiflora now Orbea variegata
  91. S. prognatha now Orbea prognatha
  92. S. pruinosa now Quaqua pruinosa
  93. S. pulchella now Orbea pulchella
  94. S. pulchra now Orbea verrucosa
  95. S. pulla now Piaranthus pullus
  96. S. punctata now Gonolobus luteus
  97. S. quadrangula now Monolluma quadrangula
  98. S. quinquenervis now Orbea variegata
  99. S. radiata now Duvalia caespitosa
  100. S. ramosa now Quaqua ramosa
  101. S. reclinata now Duvalia caespitosa var. caespitosa
  102. S. replicata now Duvalia caespitosa var. caespitosa
  103. S. reticulata now Huernia reticulata
  104. S. retusa now Orbea variegata
  105. S. revoluta now Tromotriche revoluta
  106. S. rogersii now Angolluma rogersii
  107. S. roriflua now Orbea verrucosa
  108. S. rugosa J.C.Wendl. now Orbea verrucosa
  109. S. rugosa Donn ex Jacq. now Orbea variegata
  110. S. ruschiana now Tridentea ruschiana
  111. S. semota now Orbea semota
  112. S. serrulata now Piaranthus geminatus subsp. decorus
  113. S. stygia now Tridentea gemmiflora
  114. S. subulata now Caralluma subulata
  115. S. tapscottii now Orbea tapscottii
  116. S. thudichumii now Tromotriche thudichumii
  117. S. tubata now Huernia tubata
  118. S. tuberculata now Duvalia caespitosa var. caespitosa
  119. S. tuberosa now Brachystelma tuberosum
  120. S. umbonata now Tridentea pachyrrhiza
  121. S. umbracula now Orbea umbracula
  122. S. vaga now Orbea lutea subsp. vaga
  123. S. variegata now Orbea variegata
  124. S. venusta now Huernia venusta
  125. S. verrucosa now Orbea verrucosa
  126. S. virescens now Tridentea virescens
  127. S. wendlandiana now Orbea wendlandiana
  128. S. woodii now Orbea woodii


  1. ^ lectotype designated by Jarvis, Taxon 41: 570 (1992)
  2. ^ a b c d Stapelia L. Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  3. ^ Gibbs Russell, G. E., W. G. M. Welman, E. Retief, K. L. Immelman, G. Germishuizen, B. J. Pienaar, M. Van Wyk & A. Nicholas. 1987. List of species of southern African plants. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa 2(1–2): 1–152(pt. 1), 1–270(pt. 2).
  4. ^ Tropicos
  5. ^, Stapelia Info
  6. ^,
  7. ^ The Plant List, genus Stapelia