Orbea lutea (N.E.Br.) Bruyns subsp. lutea
Yellow carrion flower
The yellow carrion flower is so named because it produces a pungent odor reminiscent of rotting fish when in bloom. The odor attracts flies which lay eggs and pollinate the flowers. Carrion flowers are native to southern Africa, and are not found in North America.
Identification: These flowers are easily distinguished by their large clusters of 6-24 brightly colored, five-petaled, starfish-shaped flowers. Flowers are directly attached to the plant (no stem), usually clustered near the base. Flowers may be mustard yellow ranging to orange, dark orange, or almost maroon. Plants remain in flower from December to April. These plants are succulents, with waxy, thickened stems squarish in cross-section. 1-6" (3-15 cm) high. The stems have thornlike projections about ⅜" (1 cm) long.
A closely related subspecies, Orbea lutea subsp. vaga, is found in more westerly portions of southern Africa, while this more common species is found “along the lower Orange River and then northwards through most of Namibia to southern Angola. This subspecies is distinguished from vaga in having much thinner and longer corolla segments (3–5 times as long as broad compared to 1.5–2.5 times as long as broad in vaga.)”
Orbea lutea subsp. lutea on the South African National Biodiversity Institute's web site, plantzafrica.com
Orbea lutea subsp. lutea in Flora of Zimbabwe
Orbea lutea subsp. lutea on www.asclepidarium.de
Orbea lutea subsp. lutea description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.