Stepelia gigantea


A plant of the giant starfish cactus, Stepelia gigantea, occupied an exalted position among the rare plants in my little greenhouse. I had been told that the flower had a slight odor; one person said it was not so bad but that the beauty of the flower would make up for the scent.

By and by it bloomed. The blossom was huge… a foot across, perfectly star shaped. It was exotic in appearance, like something from another planet. The first day or so that my blossom was out, we marveled at its mysterious ways.

The morning of the third day I proudly opened the greenhouse door to some mid-morning visitors, and that was when we learned about the smell. Our starfish flower had turned into the carrion flower, the other name given it because it is supposed to smell something like a dead rattlesnake. However, in Oklahoma we’ve never had a rattlesnake big enough to smell like this stapelia!

stepelia starfish cactus

Of course, the logical thing to do is cut and destroy the flower just before it begins to pass around the perfume. Since we didn’t do this with our first blossom, my husband (who has no sense of smell) got the dirty work of carrying out the enchanting thing. It really is a worthwhile conservatory plant.

Shared by L King – Oklahoma

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