Sunday, February 25, 2018

Orbea variegata

Orbea variegata syn Stapelia variegata
Developing seed pods in "V for Victory" mode

This spreading ground cover succulent has fleshy stems which resemble in size and shape crinkle-cut potatoes. Container grown plants quickly fill the space with these stems/leaves and new growth tends to hang upside down over the edge of the pot. These can be trimmed off and used to propagate new plants if required.
I have not tried growing it in a garden bed but I imagine it would form a dense weed suppressing mat and would be ideal to grow in a dry spot under trees particularly ones providing summer shade and winter sun.
The 8cm diameter flowers resemble puffed balloons in bud and when open exude the characteristic carrion smell to attract  flies as pollinators. Working close by to them I often forget this unfortunate aspect of their being and assume there is a dead rat somewhere under the bench.
The purple striped seed pods produced even while new flowers are still in bud are most attractive. Eventually they turn brown and scroll back to release fluffy seeds in much the same way as its cousin the Oleander does, both being in the family Apocynaceae.
Container grown plants can be brought indoors and placed in a bright location though this is not recommended during the summer flowering season. It is definitely a winter thing especially if you live in a frost prone location.

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