Brachystelma barberae, the platvoetaasblom (flat foot carrion flower) in Afrikaans, has a most unusual appearance. One or more stems emerge from the top of the large caudex or tuber that is nearly flat at the top and bottom in a thick disc-like shape; oval as seen from the side, circular from the top. Fleshy, spindle-shaped roots anchor the plant into the ground from the bottom of the caudex that contorts into more irregular shapes as it grows and ages.
Above the caudex a few broad green leaves and one or more dense, circular groups of up to fifty quite bizarre looking flowers is neatly presented. The oblong leaves of 10 cm in length are opposite, hairy and pale green with entire, wavy margins and short petioles.
The flowers are maroon to brown inside and whitish green on the outside, also when budding. The lobe tips of each flower are long and wiry, joining well above the corolla base in cage-like fashion. The flowers have a strong putrid odour that attracts insects when they all open within a few days (www.plantzafrica.com).