Growing up to (8 in) tall, it is a clump-forming succulent with erect green stems 3 cm (1.2 in) thick. The blooms are large star-shaped five-petalled flowers up to 25 cm (9.8 in) in diameter. The flowers are red and yellow, wrinkled, with a silky texture and fringed with hairs, that can be as long as 8 mm (0.3 in). They bloom in autumn, triggered by the shorter daylight hours.
There have been several proposed reasons for the size of the flowers of S. gigantea. First, it is possible that they are large to attract the flies that pollinate them. The large size and color of the flowers combined with the carrion smell may cause the flies to behave as if it is a dead carcass and be more likely to visit it.[
Since it does not tolerate temperatures below 10 °C (50 °F) for extended periods, this plant must be grown under glass in temperate zones. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
S. gigantea can become an invasive plant when introduced in arid and semi-arid environments, although it has been found to facilitate the recruitment of nurse-dependent native taxa, those that require a suitable microhabitat created by another plant for successful germination, growth, and/or survival from impacts such as herbivory