Orbea variegata (Carrion cactus) is a leafless, glabrous, clump-forming succulent perennial. The four-angled stems are usually prominently sharp-toothed, with a soft tip, grey green mottled purple in full sun. Each stem can reach over 10 inches (25 cm). Starfish-like flower, corolla up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) across, transversely ridged, pale greenish-yellow with dark purple-brown spots mostly in 6 – 7 rows or sometimes irregularly scattered, annulus pentagonal, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) across, pale yellow with small dots, lobes of corona yellow, dusted or spotted purple. Smooth, cylindrical fruits, blotched and dotted purple, up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) long.
Several species are fairly easy to grow and Stapelia (Orbea) variegata is a well known cottage windowsill plant. 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 10°C (50°CF) is acceptable, providing that plants are kept absolutely 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