The open flower of Stapelia gigantea has a shallow depression in the centre of the five-pointed star-shape, more bowl than tube. The corolla lobes are adorned with transverse rows of purplish lines and hairs across the creamy yellow surface. The centre houses an outer and inner corona; delicately lobed structures unique in their particular shape to each Stapelia species.
The genus is closely associated with insects for pollination. This Gauteng olant happened to host a green bottle fly at the time of the photo being taken. Flies are key members of the Stapelia pollinator community. Of interest is the about universal spread of fetid smells and lurid colours across Stapelia flower species, although they occur as far apart as South Africa, Malaysia and Brazil. The stapelias share the common name of carrion flower in South Africa, starfish flower among gardeners abroad.
S. gigantea has the widest natural distribution of all stapelias in north-south terms, native to Malawi and Zambia in the north and all the way down to South Africa (White and Sloane, 1937).