from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of various plants of the genus Stapelia, including the starfish flower.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of the genus Stapelia of low-growing succulent plants, predominantly from South Africa, and often giving off an odour of rotten flesh.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An extensive and curious genus of African plants of the natural order Asclepiadaceæ (Milkweed family). They are succulent plants without leaves, frequently covered with dark tubercles giving them a very grotesque appearance. The odor of the blossoms is like that of carrion.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A genus of gamopetalous plants, of the order Asclepiadaceæ, type of the tribe Stapelieæ.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any of various plants of the genus Stapelia having succulent leafless toothed stems resembling cacti and large foul-smelling (often star-shaped) flowers


New Latin Stapelia, genus name, after Jan Bode van Stapel (died 1636), Dutch botanist.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Stapelia ("genus name"). (Wiktionary)


  • So the putrid smell of the stapelia, or carrion-flower, allures the large flesh-fly to deposit its young worms on its beautiful petals, which perish there for want of nourishment.

    Zoonomia, Vol. I Or, the Laws of Organic Life

  • Last week, he waited with the breathless anticipation of an expectant father as his South African stapelia started to flower.

    Daily Breeze Most Viewed


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  • Should be glabrous, not glubrous.

    September 2, 2009

  • "'I have never seen it before,' said Raffles, gazing at the dirty brown and purple disc. 'It has a superficial resemblance to a staphelia, but of course it must belong to an entirely different family.'

    'Sure it smells like some of the more fetid staphelias too,' said Stephen. 'Perhaps I should move it to the window-sill. He found it growing as a parasite on the glubrous bugwort. These viscid tumescent leaves with inward-curling margins incline me to think that it is also insectivorous.'"
    --Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation, 100

    March 6, 2008