Sunday, April 4, 2010

Random plant event: Stapelia gigantea flower

The Stapelia flower bud I told you about last week opened on Wednesday. I was a little disappointed to learn that it was only an S. gigantea; I knew that was most likely (the pot had a newspaper clipping taped to it, about S. gigantea, so I knew that's what the previous owner had thought it was), but I was secretly hoping for something a little more unusual.

Which is pretty unreasonable of me, as I'm sure if it'd been some other Stapelia, I'd have been disappointed that the flower wasn't bigger, or something like that. Some people just can't be made happy.

The smell is more or less what I was expecting: it's in that whole dog shit / rotten flesh neighborhood, but not strong enough to make the whole house stink. The biggest smell-related surprise for me is that Sheba appears not to care. Maybe it's just that she can't actually reach it, so she has no reason to get excited. Or, more frighteningly, maybe she just thinks this is how houses are supposed to smell.

Anyway. So here are various photos of the flower. They all blow up much larger if opened in a separate window.

The entire plant. The pot is six inches (15 cm) in diameter.

Close-up of the important part of the flower. Hard to believe that the entire huge stinky production is all just to get a couple flies to visit this.

Close-up intended to illustrate the hairiness of the flower.

Close-up on the hairs around the outside of the flower.

The flower one last time.


Unknown said...

That is one beautifully disgusting flower. Congrats.

Aaerelon said...

It's a very striking flower. I still haven't seen one in person yet. I definitely understand the hoping for a strange/rare variety!

Claude said...

They're beautiful in a rather bizarre way, aren't they? It's very easy to see why some people call them starfish flower instead of carrion flower. I seem to recall that the smell gets stronger towards the evening.

Nic said...

I actually find that flower quite beautiful...Too bad it smells so bad. Hopefully I will have a chance to give a Stapelia a try sometime soon, I have only actually seen the flowers a person a handful of times at some botanic gardens.

James David said...

I guess this one cactus plant I would not wish that it blooms.
But again, I had not had any bloomed so far.
Too bad, this one is not pleasant.

Paul said...

Like that close up of the reproductive part of the flower!

Never have tried a Stap though I do have Huernia zebrina (neat little flower and no stench).

Steve Asbell said...

I can't wait until mine blooms!
I nominated you for some Mouse and Trowel Awards like "best indoor gardening award, best container gardening blog award and best blog writing award. Thanks for all the informative and humorous posts!

Tara said...

How long did it take your plant to flower? I started a Stapelia gigantea last year, so I'm just wondering when I should start expecing blooms.

mr_subjunctive said...


N/A, kinda: I bought it in July 2009 and it bloomed in April 2010, but I bought it when it was already an established plant; I didn't start it from a seed or cutting or whatever. I tried googling for an answer to your question but came up empty.

Anonymous said...

This is my very favorite plant, due to the beauty of the flowers.

Mine have been blossoming profusely in their hanging pots during the drought this summer, with just random watering. Several blooms per plant, which has never happened before.

I have a notoriously brown thumb, so if I can grow these, anybody can. They'll make you feel like a pro!

Anonymous said...

I love this plant. i got a Stapelia grandiflora and its my favorite cactus because of its bloom. yes it smells like rotting flesh but the flower is strangely beautiful

Anonymous said...

I finally found a site that will Identify this plant. I have mine for 12 years , 6 years ago it bloomed the first flower and I realized it was there because of the odor - yet my plant became a bit of a celebrity everyone had to come by and take a picture. Again a week ago the plant bloomed two flowers this time no odor this time. I am so happy to find out more information in this site about it. I do love this plant it makes me happy to see the flowers I consider a gift to life , I am hoping to see it bloom more often and not have to wait 6 more years.

Peter Stocker said...

Great! Mine just flowered today in my Grade 4 class. You can imagine how delighted my students were to gross themselves out with the smell. This was a fun event that could only happen in my class in the school. I keep insects and unusual plants.

#betterthanyesterday said...

How do I cut off the dead blooms? At the stem or closer to the plant? I want to make sure it's correct so it will rebloom.

mr_subjunctive said...


The blooms will dry up and fall off on their own, but if you want to take them off before they do that, feel free. As far as I know, the plant will be capable of blooming again later no matter how you take off the blooms: there's no incorrect way to do it.