Thursday, October 25, 2012

Starfish Flowers

The flowering season for most Stapelia species is summer and early autumn, and the plants are by this time entering a period of winter torpor. Back when the weather was warmer, though, I had some nice blooms from these African desert relatives of the roadside wildflower milkweed. 

Stapelia grandiflora
 Stapelia grandiflora has impressive flowers, the size of teacups, that are both colored and scented to attract pollinators such as carrion flies. In the greenhouse, I usually realize that the flowers have opened by the smell alone, and only after checking under the benches and not finding any actual dead squirrels. 

Stapelia flavopurpurea
 Stapelia flavopurpurea, on the other hand, has small but very cheerful-looking flowers for a stapeliad. The flower colors of different individuals of S. flavopurpurea are remarkably diverse and can include various combinations of violet, red, white, orange and chartreuse. It must be pollinated by something other than the usual carrion insects, because its fragrance is pleasant and sweet.

1 comment:

Julie said...

OMG...that Stapelia flavopurpurea is gorgeous!!!