Carrion Plant, Starfish Flower, Starfish Cactus

Stapelia grandiflora

Family: Asclepiadaceae (ass-kle-pee-ad-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Stapelia (sta-PEL-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: grandiflora (gran-dih-FLOR-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Stapelia flavirostris
Synonym:Stapelia desmetiana
Synonym:Stapelia ambigua
Synonym:Stapelia obscura
View this plant in a garden


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

This plant is suitable for growing indoors


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)


9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade



Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:

Mid Summer


Grown for foliage

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From semi-hardwood cuttings

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:



Goodyear, Arizona

Mesa, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

Tolleson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona (2 reports)

Bonita, California

Chula Vista, California

Claremont, California

Clayton, California

El Cajon, California

La Puente, California

Long Beach, California

Nipomo, California

Pleasant Hill, California

Rowland Heights, California

San Francisco, California

Solvang, California

Susanville, California

Thousand Oaks, California

Bartow, Florida

Big Pine Key, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Key West, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Lecanto, Florida

Middleburg, Florida

Mulberry, Florida

Ocala, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Saint Augustine, Florida

Kailua Kona, Hawaii

Barbourville, Kentucky

South Dennis, Massachusetts

Eupora, Mississippi

Stockton, Missouri

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Mc Cormick, South Carolina

Bristol, Tennessee

Copperhill, Tennessee

Johnson City, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Freeport, Texas

Harlingen, Texas

Houston, Texas

League City, Texas

Richmond, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Spring Branch, Texas

Dillwyn, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

Quilcene, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 31, 2015, wakingdream from Allentown, PA wrote:

This long lived cactus came to us from my husband's mother in the mid 1980's. I have taken offshoots from the plant to share a few times. Those gardeners who received it had known it previously and were elated to discover a chance to have it in their collections again.
I overwatered it one winter and nearly lost it. (yellowing and sunken, rotting branches) To achieve bloom here in PA, the Starfish Flower Cactus needs maximum sun and heat through the summer. Buds are visible in late August and open in September when they have swollen to what seems an impossible dimension.
Flies are the designated pollinators, hence the rotting meat aroma coming from the blossom. The potted specimen is dug into the garden bed from May 15th until late September. It comes into the house whe... read more


On Nov 21, 2012, JayLyn213 from South Dennis, MA wrote:

Yes I found this plant in Florida it was given to me by a woman a small clipping and this is the results I kept it watered and fed .
It grew only two flowers two years ago now that I live in Massachusetts I have it in a pot and it did great this year. It's been in the sun and kept watered. When buds appeared in October, I brought it inside. This is the result. It's beautiful but it does stink but I love it. Also it's not hard to reproduce them. It also likes to be in a sunny window


On Aug 26, 2011, BUFFY690 from Prosperity, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Adding this to my list of plants acquired this year, got some in a trade (enough to fill an Hanging Basket) all rooted pieces, got them hanging in with a few sod staples to keep them a little upright :0) hope to get to see this blooming soon.


On Dec 6, 2010, Alexwtf_93 from Susanville, CA wrote:

i love this plant, although its never bloomed for me, it grows nicely all summer outdoors and inside for winter


On Oct 12, 2010, atcps from WOODLAWN, TN wrote:

I grow this plant as a houseplant and have done so for more than four years. It has finally bloomed and oh my oh my. I walked into the large room thinking a large rodent had died. As I began looking for the rodent it soon became clear to me it was this flower. While the flower and buds are gorgeous and most unique this is a plant you want to site away from your nose.


On Sep 30, 2006, melmccracken from Bristol, TN wrote:

I have a very large star fish cactus that has already bloomed a big flower and has about 12 more bud still to bloom. it has busted its pot and needs repotting , will take pics soon for others to injoy, this one has more of a grey and red color, bristol tenn.


On Aug 20, 2006, randomplanter from Houston, TX wrote:

I have 2 different types of the plant, I think. One has many very small flowers and one has the giant flower. It was such an unexpected shock when it first bloomed and now I look forward to each one. I just wish I knew how to make them produce more flowers. So far I only get one big one a year.
Any suggestions?


On Jul 8, 2005, StarGazey26 from (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant is awsome, i have a few, growing inside, in my west facing window! And they do great.. Be sure to let them dry out real good before watering again, because they are prone to root rot. No pest's noted. They do tend to smell when the flower is touched or if you disturbe the hairs, smells like bad feet to me!! But other than that, an easy and very pretty plant to grow, everyone should own one, or two!


On May 29, 2005, lebtuk from Lebanon, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

When we moved to Pheonix, Az in late 1989 I planted one plant on each side of the front door. By the summer of 1992 they covered an area 2' x 3' on each side.
They flowered mostly during the fall and winter. Only drawback is that the flowers do draw flies.
They seem to grow in any old dirt but spread and bloom well in 1/4 sand, 1/2 organic matter and 1/4 dirt.


On Nov 18, 2004, snowserotic from El Cajon, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have a few pretty big ones. I had heard they dislike full sun so mine are in the shade. Maybe that's why I haven't seen any blooms yet?


On Nov 17, 2004, hawaiiGuy from Kailua Kona, HI wrote:

This is a great succulent groundcover that should be used much more often. Here in Hawaii it blooms sporadically throughout the year in large waves of the most unusual blooms. Kids love the lightly furry blooms. This needs to be planted in a prominent location. It does great in about half day sun or more, but the blooms fade quickly in full sun, so it is best in afternoon shade. Quite vigorous but very easy to maintain and propagate by cuttings or sections pulled away. I would imagine it dislikes standing water or constantly moist soil, however after rainy periods it blooms even more profusely. I have a large one in a 14" hanging basket on my front lanai and it always attracts attention since it is at eye level. Highly recommended for the lovers of the unusual, and easy even if a pati... read more


On Jul 16, 2004, corky59 from Lakeland, FL wrote:

i have several seedlings growing. they are about an inch tall. i will be transplanting them into seperate pots soon. i am in lakeland, fl. they are in partial shade in the a.m. and full sun about an hour. marilynne