Stapeia gigantea, commonly called Giant Toad Plant, is a cactus like plant native to south eastern Africa. The greens of the Toad Plant have four angled deep ribs with toothed edges. They are clump-forming and can grow up to 8 inches long. The 5 petal star shaped flowers are pale yellow with thin red wrinkles, covered in a fuzzy hairs. These giant flowers can grow up to 12 inches wide and emit a deathly carrion odor.
Description: Stapeia gigantea, The Giant Toad Plant’s velvety greens can grow up to 8 inches, they have four deep angled ribs with toothed edges (spine-less). The Giant toad plant is clump-forming and grows rather quickly, in the right conditions it can triple in size in one year. The 5 petal star shaped flowers can grow up to 12 inches wide, they are pale yellow with thin red wrinkles, covered in a fuzzy hairs. These flowers emit an odor reminiscent to a carcass, it is speculated that the function of this odor is to attract flies for pollination.
Location: Chicago Botanic Garden – Glencoe, IL
Common Name: Giant Toad Plant, Zulu Giant, Zulu Plant, Carrion Plant, Corpse Plant, Starfish Plant, Toad Plant, Starfish Flower, Starfish Plant
Botanical Name: Stapeia gigantea
Origin: South eastern Africa
Care: This succulent loves a warm arid environment and will not tolerate freezing temperatures. Plant in a free draining pot, water carefully in the warmer months, allow well drained soil to dry out. During the colder months, water should be restricted and the plant should be kept very dry. Position plant in warm area with bright light, may become scorched if exposed to too much direct sun.
Propagation: The Giant Toad ‘Stapeia gigantea’ is a clump-forming plant. This means they growing in clusters near the mother plant. From here, the plant can easily be divided and propagated. Otherwise, they also do quite well from cuttings. Cut your selection with a clean edge and allow it the dry out for a couple of days before planting in new soil.
Toxicity: Many plants in the milkweed family are considered toxic, however, toxicity of the Giant Toad Plant is unclear.
Tidbit: Although the The Giant Toad ‘Stapeia gigantea’ seems to be most similar to cacti, it is actually a member of the milkweed family, Apocynaceae. Judging from the succulent greens, it would seem impossible, but it’s the way they seed and flower that connects these plants together with their silky hairs and parachute like pods.