Orbea semota


Ceropegia semota
Ceropegia semota subsp. orientalis
Orbea orientalis
Orbea semota subsp. orientalis
Stapelia discoidea
Stapelia kagerensis
Stapelia molonyae
Stapelia semota


O. semota is native to Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania where the plant grows in rocky places and can spread up to 2000 m of altitude.


O. semota is a colourful succulent with showy flowers, belonging to the Apocynaceae botanical family. The plant has a branched habit and an erect or procumbent stem that roots freely in contact with the soil. The succulent may reach up to 10 cm in height. The stem is quadrangular, dark green with purple spots, arranged in tooth-shaped, fleshy tubercles. The leaves are rudimental, 5 mm long with stipular glands and fall when ripe. Blooming occurs from the early summer to the late autumn and blossom are borne by the branches. The plant produces from 1-3 flowers, they are star-shaped, five-lobed, with a wrinkled corolla backwards curved, purple in color with yellow strips on the distal part of the lobes. The fetid smell is useful at the plant to attract flies for pollination.


This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 10°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil.


The easiest and fast method of propagation is to use cuttings but it is also possible by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.


The name Orbea comes from the latin word “orbis”, that means circle, disk. That’s because of its star-shaped fleshy flower, which has a raised, more or less prominent disk or annulus in its central part.

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