Orbea semitubiflora

Orbea semitubiflora

Scientific Name

Orbea semitubiflora (L.E.Newton) Bruyns


Angolluma semitubiflora, Ceropegia semitubiflora, Pachycymbium semitubiflorum

Scientific Classification

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


Orbea semitubiflora is a beautiful branching succulent with erect, spreading, or decumbent stems that have unique purple markings or spots. Stems are grayish-green, 4-angled to rounded, up to 3.6 inches (9 cm) long, with prominent conical to subulate, up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) long tubercles. Clusters of flowers appear from summer to fall at the ends of the branches. Flowers are unique 5-pointed stars, up to 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) in diameter, with dark red-wine lobes and a yellowish corona.


USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °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 50 °F (10 °C) 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. A layer of grit on the surface of the compost prevents moisture from accumulating around the base of the stems.

Keeping Stapelias and their roots free of pests such as mealybugs is the real key to success as fungal attack often occurs as a result of damage to stems by an insect.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Stapelia.


Orbea semitubiflora is native to Tanzania (Arusha Province).


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Orbea semitubiflora - garden

Origin and Habitat: This species has a limited distribution and is found only in the Arusha Province of northern Tanzania.

Description: Orbea semitubiflora (formerly Angolluma semitubiflora) is a tufted perennial succulent of very free flowering habit. The flowers clustered at the ends of the branches are five-pointed fleshy stars 12 mm in diameter with dark wine-red lobes and a yellowish corona. As the name suggests the flowers have a brief bowl shaped tube.
Stems: Erect, spreading or decumbent, 4-angled to rounded, 6-9 cm long, greyish green mottled with brown to purple spots and stripes with prominent conical-subulate slender tubercles, 8-15 mm long and 3-5 mm wide horizontally spreading at the base with red stripes. The stems cluster and have rhizomatous runners.
Blooming season: Flowers throughout summer and into early fall.
Fruits: The fruit are paired spindle-shaped capsules (follicles), resembling the horns of an antelope, with the tightly packed seeds inside. At maturity they split open to release numerous small brown seeds crowned with long white hairs.
Related species: Vegetatively O. semitubiflora closely resembles Orbea denboefii and Orbea dummeri, so that these three species mostly cannot be distinguished when not in flower. All three may occur within close proximity of one another in some parts of Tanzania. From both of these species O. semitubiflora differs by the much smaller corolla tube and the low gynostegium, whose outer corona lobes are deeply excavated towards the middle. The other species of Orbea that grows in the area is Orbea subterranea, and O. semitubiflora differs from it by the larger flowers with a deeper corolla tube and the different-looking stems, in which the tubercles are not as strongly laterally flattened and are not as clearly united into rows. Plants of O. semitubiflora are mostly much less rhizomatous than those of Orbea subterranea. They are in fact very variable in this feature, and in some of them the stems show no sign of underground growth at all.

Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) John Hunter Thomas “Systematic Botany Monographs” American Society of Plant Taxonomists, 2002
2) African Plants Database (version 3.4.0). Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève and South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, Retrieved 6 Apr. 2015., from .

Orbea semitubiflora Photo by: Luiza Ferreira

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Cultivation and Propagation: Orbea semitubiflora is ine of the easy Orbeas's to grow. Multiplies quickly from underground runners.
Spring: When winter ends and they begin to grow again, they will require much water and soaking the pots will no longer put the plants at risk for rot. In the spring they will grow well in partial shade and leaving them out in the rain may provide them with the water they need.
Summer: In the summer months they will tolerate heavy rain, but will be just as happy if the season is dry. It's best to sort out the stems while the plants are resting in the summer before they begin their autumnal growth cycle. They will tolerate very hot weather outdoors as long as they are kept in filtered light and this will encourage them to flower in the Autumn. They also enjoy some fertiliser. Moving the plants as they are developing buds may cause them to spontaneously abort the flowers all together.
Autumn: In the fall keep them outdoors until the night time temperatures drop below the 10°C.
Winter: Winter care presents no problems at 10° C with plenty of light. As soon as they are flowered be sure to take extra precautions to keep them dry, because damp cool conditions when the plants are resting is an invitation to fungal infections, but - according to temperatures –some occasional lit watering may be useful.
Potting medium: Since roots are quite shallow, use a cactus mix or add extra perlite or pumice to regular soil potting soil. A gritty, very free-draining compost is suitable, and clay pots help the plants to dry out between watering. Re-pot every 2 years.
Pest and diseases: Orbeas are generally fairly easy to grow, especially if kept pest-free. They are very susceptible to stem and root mealy bugs, and damage from these may well initiate fungal attack. Any time when there is a dead or dying stem in the pot it is important to remove it immediately and completely before other healthy stems can become ill too, isolate the healthy parts, dry them off, and re-root them in new compost.
Propagation: Easiest with stem cuttings. Allow cuttings to dry a day before planting. Stems must be laid (Not buried) on gritty compost and will then root from the underside of the stems. It can also be increased from seeds sowing in spring in moist, sandy peat moss. Barely cover seeds. Seeds germinate quickly.
In any season it's best to lay the stems out for several days before replanting them and then pot them only in dry soil and withhold any water until they begin to shrivel or start growing again.

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Fairly new to this website and I just recently have acquired some above succulents and would love to get to know them better and hopefully expand my collection later on.

Stapelia leendertziae
Stapelia gigantea
Stapelia paniculata

Huernia confusa
huernia schneideriana

A very good grower and blooms for several months

With such colorful stems, who needs flowers?

Grew well all thru summer but I must watch and keep warmer.

Nice red flowers and would you believe a whole branch broke off and two weeks had fully rooted. Again one that grew great in summer but got to watch during winter.

Last, my first Stapelia. It hasn't bloomed for the last several years now. Unknow why.

Hoodia gordonii
xLuckhoffia buekmannii (= x Hoodiapelia buekmannii)
Hoodia officinalis aka Trichocaulon officinalis

Stapelia asterias
Stapelia 'Berlinensis'
Stapelia desmetiana
Stapelia flavirostris
Stapelia flavopurpurea
Stapelia Gariepensis
Stapelia gettleffii
Stapelia Gigantea
Stapelia grandiflora
Stapelia grandiflora (lt. purple)
Stapelia grandiflora (lt. red)
Stapelia hirsuta Mitchell's Pass
Stapelia hirsutis
Stapelia leendertziae
Stapelia obducta Cockscomb
Stapelia olivacea
Stapelia Unicornis

Orbea dummeri
Orbea lutea ssp. vaga
Orbea paradoxa
Orbea melanantha
Orbea albocastanea
Orbia semitubiflora
Orbea variegated
Orbea schweinfurthii

Caralluma europeae
Caralluma hexagona

Tavaresia Barklyi X Obea var. 'Purple Nurple'
Duvalia sulcata ssp. Seminude
Echidnopsis Cereiformis
Echidnopsis archeri
Echidnopsis squamulata
Piaranthus cornutus

Name Status Confi­dence level Source Date supplied
Angolluma semitubiflora L.E.Newton [Unplaced] Unresolved WCSP 2012-03-23
Pachycymbium semitubiflorum (L.E.Newton) M.G.Gilbert Unresolved WCSP (in review) 2012-03-23

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Watch the video: The great beauty of the Stapelia Types of Stapelia