A nice dark flowering
clone traditionally grown for generation in the
country houses of Northern Italy.
This plant is
rustic, simple to cultivate,
wonderful flowers. Tolerate quite
light frost is not
a problem .
Orbea variegata is almost
certainly the most common Asclepiad in cultivation, even if it is still
often seen under its earlier name of Stapelia variegata. (name
given by Linnaeus) nowadays it is possible to find plants with both
names in collections. And for the reason of the
variability of the
species, many could believe they have two different
It is the first Stapelia that has reached Europe, it was introduced
into cultivation in 1639, It arrived through a
collection by the
missionary Justus Heurnius. It is extremely
about this species is variable – size, shape, colour,
habit; it is almost impossible to find two plants that are exactly
identical one to each other. Earlier there were close to 50
listed but all have now been taken back into the single species
(Photo by Jan Gielkens )
stemmed succulent each
stem can reach over 25 cm, Stems erect or
branched above ground.
toothed, grey green mottled purple in
full sun. In age forms big
flower is 5-7 cm across with 5 blunt
lobes, starfish-like, attractively patterned or dusted with
chocolate/purple, brown/bronze blotches on a greenish-yellow background,
mostly in 6-7 rows or irregularly scattered,
rugose, with a yellow central disc (annulus)
speckled with dark spots. flowers coming in late summer or fall, have a
light carrion smell.
It is quite free flowering if in direct sunlight. The plant
can readily set seed, after the
carpels develop long
fruits up to 12 cm long, these need to be contained when they
ripen, because as soon as the fruit opens it liberate a cloud of
flying seed provided whit a white feathery cotton fluff. The seeds
can float from the
pods and drift around the greenhouse on the slightest breeze.
Very easy to grow, it is the ideal plant
for beginners, needs
Light shade to
full sun (but tolerate
cold temperatures and
light frost too (in good
condition), best in a
environment. It is quite resistant to
“Balck spot” disease of Asclepiads, Water regularly during the
season, keep dry in winter. Use a
gritty, well-drained soil
pH 7.5 to
propagated by removing a
cutting, sometimes with roots
summer, But seeds
germinate readily if they are
sown when fresh.
Flower close up
(L) Haworth 1812
Common Names include:
Carrion cactus, Toad Cactus, Toad Plant, Starfish Cactus, Starfish Plant
in: Species Plantarum (1753)
generic name "Orbea" derives from the
“Orbis” meaning "circle, disc",
to the thickened corolla part - the
annulus -surrounding the flower
centre. ( The
genus name implies:
specific name "variegata" derives from the Latin
passive verb participle “variegatus” meaning “to
make or be different colours, to variegate”
( The specific
name implies: "variegated" )
* = But more probably the
specific name "variegata" don’t refers to the colour
of the flowers of this fascinating plant, currently it is
generally accepted that it means "the varied Stapelia"
– because this species is
A very rare
double flowering form
(Photo by Brian )
Here a few of the many
Stapelia variegata (orbea):
Hort. ex Salm-Dyck
Schultes nom. nud.
- buffoniana G. Don
- buffonis Lodd.
- bufonia Jacq.
- bufonis Sims
- ciliolata Tod.
- ciliolulata Tod. ex Rüst
- clypeata J. Donn, num. nud.
- .....and all the other