Stathmostelma pauciflorum is a perennial species native to parts of eastern and central Africa. It can be found in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its preferred habitat is seasonally waterlogged grassland from sea level to 1500m (~4900 ft.).
According to Goyder’s 1998 paper A revision of the African genus Stathmostelma K. Schum. (Apocynaceae: Asclepiadeae), members of this genus are identified by their unique floral structure: anther wings with convex margins & basal tails and pollinaria with flat, contorted, translator arms. Species belonging to Stathmotselma are also united by their typically colourful upright inflorescences and hood-shaped corona lobes. Stathmostelma is contained within the Apocynaceae; the genus is only found in Africa.
The striking flowers of Stathmostelma pauciflorum are borne on 2-3 terminal or extra-axillary umbels (usually 2) with 3-12 bisexual flowers per umbel. The corolla lobes are orange to purple-red and strongly reflexed, while the fleshy corona lobes are yellow to bright orange in colour. The fruit produced by each flower is a single glabrous follicle, 8cm (3 in.) long by 0.5cm (0.2 in.) wide. It is positioned upright on the supporting pedicel.
The 0.2-1m (0.6-3 ft.) long stems are sent up annually from a vertical underground tuber that can reach a depth of 0.3m (1 ft.). These stems are filled with a milky latex. Along each stem are two lines of fine white hairs running along the sides. Each stem also bears 3-6 pairs of opposite leaves that are entire and linear to linear-lanceolate in shape, with acuminate to acute tips. The 14cm (~6 in.) long leaves are sometimes pubescent, particularly at the margins and on the underside of each leaf along the midrib. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 11(2): Medicinal plants 2, edited by G.H. Schmelzer and A. Gurib-Fakim (PROTA, 2013), states that a drink made by boiling the bark and roots in water is taken as a purgative in some parts of Africa.