This plant takes us back to the stem succulents. The approximately 130 species of the genus Caralluma inhabit dry localities from South Africa through north Africa and the Island of Socotra to India. The species is found on the Island of Lampe-dusa in the Mediterranean, its range extending to the northern coast of Africa and the variety Caralluma europaea confusa marking the northern limits of the genus on the southern coast of Spain.
The square stems, which are very succulent, form a small shrub about 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) high. The small, only about 1 cm (½ in) across, and coloured brown, streaked with red, brown and yellow, are produced in summer. They are not particularly attractive and have an unpleasant scent, but there is no denying that they are interesting. Besides, a plant need not have bright, showy flowers to be attractive, which caralluma definitely is.
Carallumas are very undemanding plants. In southern India they may be encountered on sunbaked stone rubble where one will find nothing else but a few practically dry acacias, several clumps of dry grass and the tree-like spurge, Euphorbia trigo-na. Dry heat and full sun in a window are thus manna to this modest plant and certainly not an environment in which it is merely capable of surviving. If it can be provided with cool conditions in winter then these are strongly recommended; however, it also tolerates warm overwintering, but in this case it should be placed as close to the source of light as possible.