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Starfish flower is a prized possession for Indian gardening hobbyists
The starfish flower of a cacti-like plant that draws attention of the on-lookers with its central circular ring and five colourful lobes as shown in the inset picture of such a flower in my house garden.

Starfish flower is technically called Stapelia grandiflora; it is a species of the Stapelia genus and the family Apocynaceae. At times, in common parlance, it is called carrion plant or starfish cactus, although it is not related to cacti at all.

Though, the plant is native to South Africa, but a few varieties are available in India also. I had two varieties at my house in Jaipur. The yellow variety plant has died but I have a few pictures taken. The surviving variety has been shown in the inset picture.

The plant has a quite a few species, with many hybrids in South Africa and Australia. However, in India, the starfish flower plants are not popular.  In Jaipur,  our is the only house which has three pots of these flowers which bloom during the summer season and flowers start withering with the onset of winter.

The cactus-like stems can be either erect or ascending, which could be six-inch long and up to one inch in diameter. However, flowers irrespective of the colours have five petals looking like a star fish.

If you get very close to star fish flower, it smells like a meat piece to attract flies for pollination purposes.

In South Africa, starfish plant is cultivated and sold. The most popular is the one with a central ring surrounded by five pointed lobes.

In the United Kingdom, Orbea variegata variety is considered to be a prized possession since it has been made famous by the Royal Horticultural Society by giving it an award.

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