What Does The Starfish Flower Smell Like?

What Does The Starfish Flower Smell Like?

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Starfish Flower

Have you ever heard of a flower that smells nothing like its name? The starfish flower makes the cut. They are known for no other thing but their foul-smelling flowers. They look pretty just as the name sounds endearing but the smell of this plant is similar to rotting meat!

What Does The Starfish Flower Smell Like?

The starfish flower emits a distinctive and rather unpleasant odor often described as resembling the scent of rotting flesh. This pungent aroma, known as “carrion odor”

What Is Starfish Flower?

The term "starfish flower" can refer to various plants, but it is most commonly associated with two genera of succulent plants: Stapelia and Orbea. These plants are known for their unique and often foul-smelling flowers, which can resemble a starfish or sea aemone in shape. 

Stapelia is a genus of succulent plants native to southern Africa. Stapelia species are often referred to as starfish flowers due to the shape of their flowers, which typically have five pointed petals and a central, star-like appearance.

Orbea is another genus of succulent plants, closely related to Stapelia, and they are sometimes also called starfish flowers. Like Stapelia, Orbea species produce unusual, star-shaped flowers with a similar odor to attract flies for pollination.

What Does Starfish Flower Mean?

European explorers and naturalists began encountering these unique succulent plants in the arid regions of southern Africa during the 17th and 18th centuries. These plants stood out because of their peculiar star-shaped flowers and unusual odor. 

The carrion odor serves a crucial role in attracting carrion-loving insects like flies as pollinators. While the smell may be off-putting to humans, it's a strategic adaptation that ensures the successful pollination of the flower, highlighting the fascinating interplay between these plants and their specific pollinator species.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do starfish cactus blooms stink?

Starfish cactus is known for its unique and often unusual-looking flowers. While the flowers of starfish cacti do not typically emit a pleasant fragrance, they are not necessarily known for having a strong or offensive odor.

  • What is the African starfish flower used for?

The African starfish flower unlike other flowers that are grown for their scent is primarily grown for ornamental purposes due to its unique and unusual-looking flowers. These flowers often have striking colors, patterns, and shapes that make them interesting additions to gardens, indoor plant collections, or succulent arrangements. People appreciate them for their distinctive appearance and the curiosity they generate.

  • Are starfish plants poisonous?

Starfish plants are not considered highly toxic to humans. However, they do contain some compounds that can cause mild stomach discomfort if ingested. The primary concern with starfish plants is the potential for skin irritation.

  • What are the benefits of the starfish plant?

  • Starfish plants can be a valuable educational tool, especially for teaching botany, plant adaptation, and pollination biology. They demonstrate mimicry in nature, as their foul-smelling flowers attract flies and other insects, providing an interesting example of coevolution between plants and pollinators.
  • The foul-smelling flowers of some Stapelia species attract carrion flies, which serve as pollinators. Supporting a diverse range of pollinators can indirectly benefit the local ecosystem.

  • What is the common name for African starfish flowers?

The common name for African starfish flowers is “Carrion flower.”

  • How tall do starfish flowers grow?

Starfish flowers are relatively low-growing and typically reach heights ranging from a few inches to around 12 inches (30 centimeters) tall.

  • What is the rarest flower in Africa?

There are so many rare flowers in Africa, one example of a rare African flower is the “Ghost Orchid”, which is found in various parts of Africa, although it's not exclusive to the continent. This orchid is known for its elusive and sporadic appearance, and it's challenging to spot in the wild because it lacks chlorophyll and doesn't rely on photosynthesis. Instead, it obtains nutrients from fungi in the soil.

  • What is the oldest flower in Africa?

Protea plants are believed to have existed for over 300 million years. Fossil evidence suggests that they date back to the time of the supercontinent Gondwana, which eventually split into the continents we know today, including Africa. While it may not be the absolute oldest flower in Africa, it is one of the oldest and most iconic.

  • Can a starfish bite you?

No, starfish cannot bite you. Starfish, also known as sea stars, do not have the ability to bite or chew like animals with teeth. They have a unique feeding mechanism that sets them apart from many other animals.

  • Why not touch starfish?

Starfish use tubes on their outer bodies to take oxygen from the water. A starfish should never be touched or removed from the sea because doing so could cause them to suffocate.

  • Which country produces the most flowers in Africa?

Kenya was the leading flower-producing country in Africa. Kenya is well-known for its extensive flower industry, particularly the cultivation of roses, carnations, and other cut flowers for export.

  • What flower is only in Africa?

There are several flowers that are native to Africa and can be found growing naturally on the continent. One of the most iconic and unique African flowers is the “Bird of Paradise” or Strelitzia reginae.

The Bird of Paradise flower is known for its striking and distinctive appearance, with orange or yellow petals and blue “tongue” emerging from a green, boat-shaped bract. It gets its name because the flower's shape resembles a bird in flight.

  • What is the richest flower?

The Kadupul flower also known as the Queen of the Night is often considered one of the most precious flowers in the world due to its unique characteristics. It is also considered one of the richest flowers.

  • What is the most poisonous flower in the world?

One of the most poisonous flowers in the world is the Nerium oleander, commonly known as oleander. Oleander is a beautiful flowering shrub that is cultivated for its attractive flowers, but it is extremely toxic. All parts of the oleander plant, including its leaves, flowers, and sap, contain toxic compounds called cardiac glycosides, which can disrupt the normal functioning of the heart and other organs if ingested.


Starfish flowers are relatively easy to care for, making them suitable for both experienced and novice gardeners. They require well-draining soil, plenty of sunlight, and minimal watering, replicating the conditions of their native habitat.

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