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Stapelias are often characterized by pretty gaudy, showy flowers – S. gigantea, S. leendertziae and S. unicornis spring to mind. Not so S. kwebensis. But what it lacks in wow factor it makes up for in floriferousness. This is one of the first stapelias to start flowering each season and one of the last to finish. And it’s pretty forgiving.

The name derives from the Kwebe Hills near Lake Ngami, Botswana, where the type was collected, and its range extends to Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Red data list has it as lower risk – least concern which is good to see.

1017 Fig1 S.kwebensis

Fig. 1 Stapelia kwebensis

As the pictures show, the flowers are small and I have two separate clones both of which have similar coloured flowers. Apparently these can also be yellowish to green, although none of those has not come my way yet unfortunately. The stems also have rudimentary leaves which can just be seen in the first picture.

1017 Fig2 S.kwebensis

Fig. 2 Stapelia kwebensis

Unlike some Asclepiads this does not need coddling. Most like good sunshine for flowering but although my greenhouse misses a decent amount of morning sun they still flower happily. Usual rules apply for watering ie don’t overdo it, and always watch out for mealy bugs in stems and roots. I repot annually and also spray from midsummer onwards with a rose fungus spray and an occasional spray of full strength meths to keep on top of black spot which can appear in winter. Winter temperatures in my greenhouse are usually about 12°C, but I suspect S. kwebensis might be quite happy at 5°C. It gets a little water in winter to keep the stems turgid, but after watering I put it straight into the propagator so it dries off quickly.

If you are just getting into stapeliads this makes a very good starter plant.

Mike Cullen

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