Stapelia are low-growing succulent perennials predominantly from South Africa, with a few coming from other parts of Africa. I picked my Stapelia up during the spring 50% off sale at Digs Inside & Out, I had an empty hanging container and thought it’s sea creature-like appearance would be a fun addition to the garden.
I never dreamt it would bloom, that wasn’t even a consideration when purchasing. But it is!
I’ve spent the last few weeks watching this balloon-like bud get bigger and bigger, this photo was taken on July 26th.
I should have taken a photo when it first started to form, it was obvious right away that it was going to be a bloom, it looked a lot like the circled bits in this photo. Although I’ve been watching them for a while now too and they don’t appear to be doing anything.
This photo is from Friday, July 31st. The “seams” kept getting more and more pronounced, I was sure it was going to open before the day was over. It didn’t. The next morning it looked the same. I checked on it at about 9:30 am and still the same.
But by 10:00 this is what I found…
It was quite dramatic, I was instantly obsessed...
Isn't it beautiful?
The edges have long hairs but there are shorter ones all over the surface.
It was going to be another sunny hot day (98 F) and I feared the heat would exhaust the flower before Andrew got to see it...
So I moved my canvas patio umbrella into place for the day (remember I mentioned that I was obsessed...).
I even had to measure it.
About a half hour later the petals had started to arch backwards.
By the time I returned home 3 hours later they had really curled back.
My favorite of the common names for this plant is the African starfish, carrion flower is the usual choice. According to PlantZAfrica: “The hairs, coloration and surface mimic decaying animal matter and attract mostly flies, which act as pollinators. The strong carrion scent is sometimes recognizable at a great distance, especially on hot afternoons.” Indeed the scent got much stronger as the day went on. At first I had to stick my nose up near the flower to detect it, later just walking by it was evident. Customers started showing up too.
Lots of them, the flower was never empty.
There is an interesting article on the life-cycle of the Green Bottle Fly (what I think these are) here.
Eggs kept piling up, evidently..."The time spent in the egg stage of the life of the Common Green Bottle Fly is very short. Depending on the weather, eggs can hatch anywhere from 8–10 hours to three days. The warmer and moister the environment is, the shorter the hatching time will take. Some cases during summer months have been found where the eggs seem to hatch almost immediately." (source)
While it all was a little unpalatable it was also too bizarre to not keep watching.
Oh and this is what I found on the wall underneath after leaving Lila unattended for a few minutes. Her nose was working overtime to locate the source of the odor. It was only a matter of time before she tried to get close.
Five of them, this was most I managed to capture in a photo, but there were swarms all around.
As I write this it's Sunday evening and the scent (and the attention it's receiving) have both faded. The flower is still quite remarkable. I wonder how long it will last?
All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.