Orbea ciliata (Starfish Stapelia)

Scientific Name

Orbea ciliata (Thunb.) L. C. Leach

Common Names

Starfish Stapelia, Near-white Starfish, Double Crown, Double Cup


Stapelia ciliata (basionym), Diplocyatha ciliata, Stisseria ciliata

Scientific Classification

Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Tribe: Ceropegieae
Subtribe: Stapeliinae
Genus: Orbea


Orbea ciliata is a much-branched succulent with decumbent or ascending stems and attractive star-shaped flowers. It grows up to 4 inches (10 cm) tall. Stems are grayish-green to dark purple-brown in full sun, 4-angled, sharp-toothed, and up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long. Flowers are up to 4 inches (10 cm) across, pale yellow to creamy-white, and dotted with red.


USDA hardiness zone 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Several species are fairly easy to grow. Others, often those with slightly hairy stems and the more unusual flowers, are more challenging and require careful watering (with some fertilizer) during the growing season and complete withdrawal of water during the winter months. A minimum winter temperature of 10°C (50°F) is acceptable, providing that plants are kept dry. A heated growing bench or incubator may help delicate plants to get through the colder months. However, many species live under shrubs in habitat and prefer light shade rather than full sun.

A gritty compost is essential, and clay pots are advisable for the more delicate species. Some growers prefer a mineral-only compost to minimize the chance of a fungal attack on the roots.

Keeping Stapelias and their roots free of pests such as mealybugs is the real key to success as fungal attack often occurs due to damage to stems by insects. See more at How to Grow and Care for Stapelia.


Native to South Africa (Cape Province).


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Orbea ciliata

Orbea ciliata, called the starfish stapelia, is a species of flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae, native to the Cape Provinces of South Africa. [1] [2] It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. [3]

    • Ceropegia ciliatiorisBruyns
    • Diplocyatha ciliata(Thunb.) N.E.Br.
    • Podanthes ciliata(Thunb.) Haw.
    • Stapelia ciliataThunb.
    • Stapelia ciliata var. cristataP.V.Heath
    • Tromotriche ciliata(Thunb.) Sweet
  1. ^ ab"Orbea ciliata (Thunb.) L.C.Leach". Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2017 . Retrieved 23 March 2021 .
  2. ^
  3. "Orbea ciliata Starfish Stapelia". worldofsucculents.com. World of Succulents. 2020 . Retrieved 23 March 2021 .
  4. ^
  5. "Orbea ciliata". The Royal Horticultural Society . Retrieved 23 March 2021 .

This Apocynaceae article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.

Orbea ciliata (Starfish Stapelia) - garden

Accepted Scientific Name: Orbea ciliata (Thunb.) L.C.Leach
Kirkia 10(1): 291 1975

Origin and Habitat: It is native to the Karroo Desert in South Africa. (Calvinia Div Hantam, Ceres Div. Karoo between the Roggeveld Mountains and Paarde Berg Karoo between Bokkeveld and Paarde Berg Beaufort West Div. Nieuwveld, between Rhenoster Kop and Ganzefontein Prince Albert Div. Karoo near Prince Albert)

  • Orbea ciliata (Thunb.) L.C.Leach
    • Diplocyatha ciliata (Thunb.) N.E.Br.
    • Diplocyathus ciliatus (Thunb.) K.Schum.
    • Podanthes ciliata (Thunb.) Haw.
    • Stapelia ciliata Thunb.
    • Stisseria ciliata (Thunb.) Kuntze
    • Tromotriche ciliata (Thunb.) Sweet

Description: Orbea ciliata is one of the oldest known “stapelia” easily recogizable for the creamy-white flowers with a prominent fleshy cup or raised annulus which forms part of the corolla and for the clavate and strongly vibratile hairs which form a fringe along the edge of the corolla lobes. These hairs hardly remain still and move in the slightest breeze, possibly attracting insects. It is a prostrate-growing plant with branches rooting at the base,
Stems: Short, decumbent and ascending, and branching from the base 4-7 cm long, 12-18 mm thick, exclusive of the teeth, obtusely 4-angled, glabrous, greyish-green, mottled with purple Teeth conical acute, divergent, 4-8 mm long. In cultivation stem tips often become funnel-shaped (cristate) with cup-shaped depressions. In a good light the stems become attractively dark purple-brown.
Flowers: Sub-solitary, up to about 7-10 cm across, bowl-shaped from near the base or middle of the stems with hardly any trace of the carrion odour characteristic of stapeliads. Pedicels 10-12 mm long, erect, glabrous. Sepals about 6-8 mm long 2-4 mm wide, convex ovate or ovate-lanceolate, acute, glabrous. Corolla about 7,5 cm in diameter, pale-green stripped with reddish, smooth and glabrous outside, densely papillate-rugose on the innerface, greyish to pale yellowish, minutely dotted with red, raised at the mouth around the thick recurved rim of the inner tube, which is densely covered with stiff purple hairs at the base around and under the corona. Corolla lobes about 2,5 cm long, 2 sm broad, spreading, ovate, acute, more or less revolute, ciliate from base to apex with clavate strongly vibratile white hairs. Outer corona-lobes arising above the base of the staminal column, connate at the base, somewhat spreading, with the free part 2 mm long, transverse or subquadrate, very obtusely or subacutely bifid, glabrous, apparently yellowish dotted with purple-brown. Inner corona-lobes lying against the backs of the anthers, about 1,5 mm long, thick, ovate, acute, or acuminate with the tips produced into a very short erect point, apparently yellowish, dotted and marked with purple-brown without extended horns or wings.

Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Orbea ciliata group

  • Orbea ciliata" href='/Encyclopedia/SUCCULENTS/Family/Asclepiadaceae/23062/Orbea_ciliata'> Orbea ciliata (Thunb.) L.C.Leach : has creamy-white flowers with a raised annulusand strongly vibratile hairs which form a fringe along the edge of the corolla lobes. These hairs hardly remain still and move in the slightest breeze.
  • Orbea ciliata var. cristata" href='/Encyclopedia/SUCCULENTS/Family/Asclepiadaceae/23069/Orbea_ciliata_var._cristata'> Orbea ciliata var. cristata (P.V.Heath) : This is the most common form in cultivation with stem tips often funnel-shaped (cristate) with cup-shaped depressions.

Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) N. E. Bbrown. "Flora Capensis", Vol 4, page 518 (1909)

Stapelia ciliata (Orbea ciliata) Photo by: Luiza Ferreira

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Cultivation and Propagation: Orbea ciliata is one of the easiest stapeliads to grow. It like a half-sun or shaded position (never grow in too harsh sun), very resistant to heat will also tolerate quite cold temperatures but avoid frost, best in a ventilated environment. It is quite resistant to the “Balck spot” disease of Asclepiads, Water regularly during the growing season, keep dry in winter. Use a gritty, well-drained soil.
Propagation: It is easily propagated by removing a cutting, sometimes with roots attached, in spring and summer, but seeds germinate readily if they are sown when fresh.

Watch the video: Starfish flowersStapeliascarrion flowers.

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