Plants in general aren’t usually high in the gross factor. But a group of succulents that is sure to please those who love the flagrant (or should I say fragrant) disregard of societal politeness is the stapeliads.
The term stapeliad refers to the highly succulent, mostly leafless, and usually thornless plants belonging to the family Apocynaceae. They are found almost exclusively in the Old World and are widely distributed over the drier parts from the southern tip of Africa north to the southern shores of Europe, east to Arabia, India, and Myanmar. More than half are found in southern Africa with all but a handful endemic to the region. The stapeliads have succulent angled stems with clear sap. Although the flowers vary widely in their shapes and sizes, they are specialized exclusively for fly pollination. Flowering times can vary but the majority of species begin flowering in the fall with flowers remaining open for 2 – 4 days. The fruit consists of a pair of slender follicles resembling horns which, when ripe, split open, releasing seed which has a cluster of hairs attached resembling milkweed seeds. These hairs act like a parachute, enabling the seed to disperse long distances on the wind. [Read more…]