Stepelia gigantea
Stapelia gigantea

Here in Southern California our drought is dry and angry, laying waste to lawns, shrubs and even trees. I’ve heeded the wake up call to acknowledge the natural climate I live in, and to plant things that thrive in it, instead of trying to live up to the idea that a green lawn is normal in a desert climate. My wallet couldn’t take the water bill, and I couldn’t take the guilt. I’ve been replacing my dead lawn with rock gardens of succulents and other drought tolerant plants and every morning I greet my patch of stunning specimens with delight and wonder at the beauty of their details. It is a much more satisfying view than dying grass.

You may have realized I love plants, weeds or cultivated, it matters not. But I am first and foremost a fan of the underdog, which is why I love weeds so much. I love a living thing that strives against all odds to thrive and make its mark. And this plant, a Stapelia gigantea, also known as a Starfish Cactus, or carrion flower, is not afraid to show off its stripes and make passersby gasp in wonder.

Overnight the blossom unfurled. For the few days that preceded it, I was treated to the sudden appearance of ominous looking buds that were about the size of an orange. Those buds swelled each dayand grew more pregnant with possibility and then overnight….a starfish flower appeared and spread out its petals. Voila! This was my dawn’s view of the flower in full bloom.

I may be stretching it a bit, but I really wanted to share these photos of my Stapelia giganta, so if you consider that a lawn is the norm for a front yard in my neighborhood, then my collection of succulents is like a weed compared to the sod. Some might say it doesn’t belong on display curbside, but I love it. Let it thrive, and delight, and save some water!

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We and our weeds are so much more than what we first appear to be. Please come back again for a new “Weed Image of the Day” and let me know which ones you like. Even better, look down at the world that teems with life and meaning. It is right at your feet!

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