Stapelia obducta is native to South Africa: Cape Province and Eastern Cape. The plant grows in groups in the shade of shrubs in arid regions.
S. obducta is a succulent of the Apocynaceae botanical family. The plant grows in clumps that can reach 50 cm in size. The succulent has a quadrangular pale green stem, 10 cm tall, made up of vertical hooks, arranged in ribs, it has no leaves so as not to lose water. At the base of the plant, younger shoots bear very particular flowers. Flowers are large, dark red star fish-shaped, and with yellow streaks near the edge; they are densely covered by long white hairs and in the centre of the flowers there is a yellow gynostegium. The flower with its petals wrinkled by its colour and its smell looks like a carcass, flies are attracted by it indeed, and this is useful for the plant for the pollination; it is not uncommon to see the flies lay their eggs inside the flower. The corolla will soon curl backwards giving the flowers a very unusual form. Fruits are follicles: a dry fruit with many woolly hairs that help the plant to spread the seed.
This plant can withstand a minimum temperature of 10°C if the plant is kept dry, so in the winter it can be placed indoors or in a greenhouse. It is advisable a light shade sun-exposure as the plant is used to growing in nature. Soil should be a mixture of loam and pumice or perlite to be well-drained. Stapelia requires moderately watering through the growing season but not in hot weather, during this time she likes a lot of water and some fertilizer, this helps them to flower luxuriantly. Flowers are intermittently produced throughout the late summer and autumn. The plant is easy to grow but it is also prone to the root rot, so you can stop watering in the winter and use perforating pot to drain excess water. Repotting is recommended every 2 years in a pot 2 cm wider than the previous one.
Propagation can be done by seed or by cutting. By seed is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with high level of humidity; temperatures of germination are between 20 and 28 °C. By cutting you can use steam cuttings during the spring. Cut the stem and then let it 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 success of propagation you can cut two or more leaves at the same time. For cuttings is recommended temperatures around 20 °C.
Stapelia owes its name to Dutch botanist J. B. van Stapel, who lived in 1600. The name “obducta” is a latin word meaning curled, corolla curls backward after flowering indeed.
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