Caralluma russeliana is an odd succulent originating from Africa and India. The four-angled stems are somewhat flat rather than fleshy. It is one of the largest of the Stapeliads and can grow to two feet tall. Its flowers, coming in late summer, are notorious as the stinkiest of the stinky. The flowers of the C. russeliana are different from many of the others in the genus; they produce a large round cluster of small, nasty-smelling flowers that are such a dark purple they appear to be black. If you’ve ever gotten a whiff of the foul-smelling flowers of a Stapeliad, imagine it ten times worse! The rank smell attracts numerous flies that pollinate the flowers.
This is new to my collection, and since it is still young and only eight inches high, I will have to wait for flowers until it is more mature. I do think the angled gray green stems are interesting, but my main reason for acquiring it was to see (not smell) the baseball-sized flower cluster. I borrowed this flower photo from Living Stones Nursery, where I purchased my plant.
Many people have heard of the succulent Hoodia, not because of their interest in succulents, but because Hoodia is used as a natural weight loss supplement. Several species in the Caralluma genus, including C. russeliana, are emerging as a new and better replacement for Hoodia.