Two contrasting stapelias

Walker, Colin (2023). Two contrasting stapelias. New Zealand Cactus & Succulent Journal, 76(1) pp. 23–26.


The genus Stapelia itself includes just 28 species from southern Africa (southwards from Angola, Zambia and Mozambique), characterised by having usually four-angled hairy stems and hairy, five-lobed flowers. Stapelias have an incredible range of flower size with Stapelia erectiflora having the smallest (around 1 cm in diameter) and S. gigantea being the largest (at up to 40 cm across). Indeed the latter flower is one of the largest of all flowering plants.
Here two species are showcased as having contrasting flower size and shape: Stapelia divaricata and S. leendertziae. Stapelia divaricata exhibits considerable variation in flower size and colour but the species is easily recognised by its rather odd stems and the unusual waxy appearance of the flowers. Stapeliae leendertziae is one of the most distinctive and striking species, being the only Stapelia with a large flower tube. A similarity between these species is that they are both relatively rare in the wild.

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