Dorstenia Foetida Origin and Habitat: It is native of a vast area, comprising Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman.
Habitat: Grows in decidous and succulent bushland, open places, and on rock outcrops, altitude 100-2100 m.
Dorstenia Foetida Description: Dorstenia foetida is a sub-shrub, stem succulent which may be branched or not. This is a very variable species especially in shape and size of leaves, length of petioles and stipules. Since the various forms are connected by intermediates it is impossible to recognize infraspecific taxa. Usually perennial D. foetida under tropical conditions may grow as an annual or bi-annual.
Stem (caudex): It has a thick, dark green- to mahogany-colored conical trunk, that will grow to 15 centimeters in diameter and 30-40 centimeters in height, older parts often with peeling bark. The stem bears conspicuous and prominent round scars of petioles, inflorescences and stipules in a spiral pattern.
Leaves: Evergreen or caducous, at stems’ tips, light green to grayish-green narrowly lanceolate to broadly elliptical (sometime nearly orbicular or linear), 1-15 cm long, 0,5-4,5 cm wide, tip acute to shortly acuminate, or obtuse to rounded. Base attenuate to cuneate or rounded. Margin rather ‘crinkly,’ ondulate and crenate to subentire or dentate. Lateral veins 3-15 pairs, Petiole 0,1-6 cm long, and relatively broad. It has subpersistent to caducous leaf stipules, about 0,5 to 10 mm long.
Flowers: It produces grayish or green (or orange/pinkish), solitary, pedicellate, flower-like structures that are actually fruiting bodies called hypanthodiums. This inflorescence is a weird, horned, tentacle-like disc-shaped structure that has given these plants the common name “Shield Flower.” The “Shield” actually consists of a multitude of miniscule flowers. 0, 5-2 cm wide.
Fruits: The seed pods open explosively when ripe and send the seed flying a considerable distance (up to 2 meters) – similar to some Euphorbias.
If you intend to keep the seeds, care must be taken to catch them with a piece of fabric or by other means.