Stapelia hirsuta var. baylissii Seeds
Known globally as African starfish flowers or locally as carrion flowers, members of the genus Stapelia are usually characterized by their foul-smelling flowers reminiscent of the odour of rotting meat. 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. Surprisingly, species such as S. erectiflora and S. flavopurpurea have sweetly scented flowers, but they are rare.
Stapelia hirsuta is widely distributed and extremely variable, with five varieties recognized. It is found in Namaqualand and the Eastern Cape of South Africa and in southern Namibia, seemingly restricted to the mainly winter rainfall areas. It is closely related to Stapelia grandiflora. The stems are up to 20cm high, with flowers 10-20cm across. The flowers are cream-coloured, purple at the centre, with purplish transverse lines on the lobes which have purple-brown tips. The corona, flower size, proportions of the corolla, density and texture of hairs and details of patterning and colour, all vary within wide limits.
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