Six years ago, my lovely friend from Martinique brought me a tiny bit of a succulent from her mother’s garden. I have nurtured it ever since in the greenhouse.
Over the last three days the bud has ballooned up and got fatter and puffier and I have been getting more and more excited. Today it has opened. Wow! Its name is Stapelia gigantea. The word ‘gigantea’ is not an exaggeration.
I read on line that these flowers can be 30 cm in diameter, but I just measured it from tip to tip and it is 40 cm. You can see why it is called Starfish plant.
What you can’t see and what my friend didn’t tell me, is that it is also called Carrion Plant, for a very good reason. It must be one of the worst smelling plant ever. Think Dracunculus vulgaris and then intensify it. Of course you wouldn’t have Dracunculus in the greenhouse and so you wouldn’t get the whole rotting flesh-stench experience. It is pollinated by flies and there are plenty buzzing around. Not only the stench, but the the fleshy petals are designed to fool them.
Ok, it is stinky, but I am so glad to have seen the amazing, furry, brown flowers. Obviously I won’t be bringing it into the house. But I do have to keep holding my nose and going for another look. It just doesn’t look real; more as if someone has knitted it out of hairy yarn.
Wednesday Vignette is hosted by Anna at Flutter and Hum blog. This meme celebrates exciting plant combinations, so strictly speaking my Stapelia doesn’t qualify. But I am sure Anna will be indulgent. Anyway, it does combine drama, exoticism and a cunning way of attracting pollinators. Obviously, a flower that looks and smells like rotting flesh isn’t on everyone’s ‘Must Have List’. But I like it.