Owl Eyes Stapelia


Huernia zebrina (a.k.a. Owl eyes) is a low-growing perennial succulent species more or less creeping, occasionally forming mats. It is one of the most beautifully flowering huernias and very popular in cultivation for its odd blooms. It has a raised, glossy, wine-red ring or ‘annulus’ around the mouth of the corolla tube. The corolla varies in size and is usually patterned with wine-red zebra stripes which vary conspicuously in colour intensity. One of the so-called “lifebuoy” huernias because of the glossy raised annulus.

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Origin and Habitat: Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa (Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal), Swaziland.
Altitudes: It occurs at low altitudes.
Habitat: Open dry land, in stony areas, often in  hard loamy soils.

Stems: Deflexed-decumbent or decumbent-erect, laxly branched, tapering, prominently 5-(to 6) angled, and irregularly branching, 5 cm long, 12 mm in diameter and strongly toothed. Teeth 4,5 mm long.
Inflorescence: Few-flowered on a 12-14 mm long peduncle.
Flowers: The corolla is flat (25-)35-45(-50) mm across with a tube c. 6 mm in diameter and c. 7 mm deep, the prominent shiny annulus is glossy red to purple-brown, marked or unmarked, the 5 corolla lobes are acuminate c. 12 x 10 mm, greenish-yellow with red to purple cross-zebra-stripes; both sides glabrous. As with other plants of the genus, H. zebrina has a small intermediate lobe. Sepals 6-8 mm. Corona with inner lobes 2-4 mm tall, claw-like, incurved. Frequently the flowers are larger than the plant itself and emit the smell of carrion. The rotting flesh odour attracts flies who transfer the pollen as they search from flower to flower for the non-existent rotting meat.


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