Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Stapelia gigantea
N.E.Br., Apocynaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  Evaluate, score: 3 (Go to the risk assessment).

Common name(s): [more details]

English: carrion flower, giant toad plant, starfish flower, Zulu giant

Habit:  succulent

Description:  "Succulent perennial herb branching at the base with purplish, finely pubescent, cylindrical, vertically four-ridged stems to 40 cm high, bearing soft spines on the margins, sap clear unlike most members of the milkweed family Asclepiadaceae.  Leaves absent.  Flowers anytime during the year; flowers solitary or paired, axillary.  Corolla fused petals, stellate, 16-40 cm in diameter, divided about halfway into five triangular, attenuate lobes, purple on the outside, yellow with crimson transverse lines and purple hairs, foul smelling.  Fruit a pair of follicles 10-20 cm long, containing numerous silky-tufted seeds"  (Whistler, 2000; pp. 428-429).

"Stems erect or decumbent, 10-20 cm long, softly pubescent.  Flowers 1-2 in clusters near the base or middle of young branches, pedicels ca. 2.5 cm long; corolla reddish brown to yellow with irregular reddish brown transverse lines, rotate, the lobes ovate, 10-16 cm long, pubescent with long purple hairs; corona purplish brown"  (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 241).

"A similar species, Stapelia nobilis, may also be sparingly naturalized in Hawai‘i.  It differs from S. gigantea primarily in the campanulate corolla with lobes 7-10.3 cm long and in being more pubescent with similar long purple hairs" (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 241).

Habitat/ecology:  Dry areas.

Propagation:  Wind-dispersed seed.

Native range:  Tropical and southern Africa and Mozambique (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 241)


Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
San Cristóbal Group
San Cristóbal Island introduced
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Hawai‘i (Big) Island introduced
Parker, James L./Parsons, Bobby (2012) (p. 57)
Voucher cited: J. parker & R. Parsons BIED84 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Maui Island introduced
Oppenheimer, Hank L./Meidell, J. Scott/Bartlett, R. T. (1999) (p. 7)
West Maui. Voucher cited: Oppenheimer 304 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Maui Island introduced
Oppenheimer, Hank (2010) (p. 33)
East Maui. Voucher cited: Oppenheimer & D. Crow H60804 (BISH, PTBG)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Moloka‘i Island introduced
Wysong, Michael/Hughes, Guy/Wood, K. R. (2007) (pp. 2-3)
Voucher cited: Wysong 537 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 241)
Sparingly naturalized.
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 20)
Vouchers cited: MacKee 23039, MacKee 29591
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Babeldaob Island introduced
Space, James C./Lorence, David H./LaRosa, Anne Marie (2009) (p. 5)
Single potted plant seen in the Legislative Building at the Capitol, Melekeok.

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This page was created on 1 JAN 1999 and was last updated on 30 DEC 2011.