Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Botany picture #252: Stapelia

With spring in the air we bought some plants lately, including some succulents, and that brought my mind back to some of the plants I had in Europe but gave away when moving to Australia. This is a Stapelia, presumably S. grandiflora (Apocynaceae), in the Old Botanic Garden of Göttingen, Germany, 2016. I had a plant of the same species but of course much smaller.

Unfortunately they seem to be hard to get in Australia. The closest I saw were online stores that had them in the catalogue in theory but not actually in stock.

What is so amazing about these cactus-like plants that are not cacti at all is, of course, their flower morphology, and that morphology is dictated by their pollination ecology. The flowers mimic rotting meat in colour, scent and sometimes even hairiness and are pollinated by confused carrion flies. Some people wonder why one would want to have a stinking flower, but I believe that is an indispensable part of its wonderful weirdness.

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