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A small, clustering succulent with upright or creeping, leafless, cacti-like but unarmed shoots. The bizarre and smelly, purple spotted flowers reveal that it is in fact not related to cacti, despite the similarity. Botanically it has been placed in the dogbane family and is thus related to Pachypodium or Plumeria. Orbea variegata is native to South Africa's Cape Province, where it grows on rocky ground to 1000 m. In cultivation it requires similar conditions to Pachypodium and is hardy to USDA Zone 9.