Stapelia variegata, known as the Starfish Cactus or Carrion Plant, is a lovely cactus that is native to South Africa.
A very decorative plant with thick, succulent stems with four ribs with toothed edges. The stems branch out at the base and form dense clumps; the spreading habit of these plants make them suitable for growing in wide, shallow containers. It grows to 10cm in height.
The star-shaped flowers are most unusual and attractive. The flowers, which are pale yellow and patterned with brownish-purple markings, are about 8cm across. The flowers of Stapelia variegata have an unpleasant, although not overpowering, odour. The odour is similar to that of rotting meat, and attracts the blowflies which pollinate the flowers. It is this characteristic that has given all varieties the common name of Carrion Plant; their other common name, Starfish Flower, obviously comes from the shape of the flowers.
They prefer a frost-free climate.