The genus Stapelia consists of around 40 species of low growing, spineless, stem succulent plants, predominantly from South Africa. The flowers of certain species, most notably Stapelia gigantea, can reach 41 cm (16 inches) in diameter when fully open. Most Stapelia flowers are visibly hairy and generate the odour of rotten flesh, a notable exception is the sweetly scented Stapelia flavopurpurea. Such odours serve to attract various specialist pollinators including, in the case of carrion scented blooms, blow flies of the dipteran family Calliphoridae. They frequently lay eggs around the coronae of Stapelia flowers, convinced by the plants' deception.
The hairy, oddly textured and coloured appearance of many Stapelia flowers has been claimed to resemble that of rotting meat, this, coupled with their odour, has earned the most commonly grown members of the Stapelia genus the common name of "carrion flowers".