Take time to smell the...Stapelias

What’s that rotting flesh smell you ask? It’s the flower of a Stapelia plant of course! August and September are flowering season for Stapelias, and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll get to catch a Stapelia in bloom, and better yet, get to experience it’s pungent smell.

Don't get too close! Credit: alchetron.com

Don't get too close!

Credit: alchetron.com

Stapelia is the genus of over 50 different species of this succulent plant that has spineless, clump-forming stems. Stems are toothed, have four angles, and branch from the base into a larger mass.  Stapelia flowers are red, purple, or yellow, and can get up to 18” in diameter (Stapelia gigantea has the largest flower). Flowers can be polished or hairy, and there are only two species of Stapelia that are pleasantly scented.

The four-sided geometric stems of the Stapelia plant. Credit: wikipedia.org

The four-sided geometric stems of the Stapelia plant.

Credit: wikipedia.org

Stapelias make great container plants as long as soil remains well-drained. They can handle full sun, but will be happier in an area that receives light shade. The geometric stems of Stapelias bring interesting structure and texture to gardens, and the stinky starfish-like flowers that emerge during bloom season are an added bonus.

Stapelia flowers just before they bloom. Credit: davesgarden.com

Stapelia flowers just before they bloom.

Credit: davesgarden.com