Stapelia

Stapelia

The southern and southwestern cape of South Africa represents 0.5 percent of Africa’s landmass but contains 20 percent of its plant species. Flowers from this region started arriving in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the eighteenth century, the gardens and conservatories of Europe were full of geraniums, proteas, succulents, and various types of lilies. Most of the plants sent back from the Cape of Good Hope in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries flowed into Holland, often to the Hortus Medicus in Amsterdam. With the encouragement of Joseph Banks, Kew Gardens sent its first official plant-hunting expedition to the Cape in the 1770s in the person of the Scottish gardener Francis Masson. Among the most popular of the plants he introduced were the distinctive Stapelia, a genus notable both for its starry shape and its foul smell.

 
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