What is a cactus and succulent plant ?

What is a Succulent plant?

A succulent plant storing water in its Caudex ( base)

A succulent plant storing water in its Caudex ( base)

A succulent plant is a plant that has special water storing tissues in either its thickened stems, roots, or its leaves.

This wonder of nature has evolved through evolution so that the plant can survive long periods of drought without water, I like to call Cacti and succulents the ‘Camels’ of the plant world but without the humps haha!.

A selection of succulent plants

A selection of succulent plants including Agave’s Crassula, Euphorbia and Aloe’s

All cacti are classed as succulents but not all succulents can be classed as cacti. even though there are many succulents that do resemble cacti in their appearance such as in the Euphorbia family like the photo below.

Euphorbia succulent plant resembling a cactus

A Euphorbia succulent plant resembling a cactus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Areoles

For a succulent plant to be classified as a cactus it has to have the presence of areoles.

areole on cactus

areole on cactus

Areoles are small cushion like structures with hairs, spines, and or wooly tufts from which flowers, offshoots, and rarely leaves grow. Areoles are actually modified branches. Other succulent spiny plants such as the Euphorbia’s and Agave’s are not cacti as they lack the presence of areoles that a true cactus has.

So what is a Cactus?

A selection of tall cacti

A selection of tall cacti of many different varieties

When people think of a cactus they often think of the good old cowboy movies that we all loved to watch as kids with the cowboy on his horse and the big saguaro cactus in the background haha!

A Lophophora williamsii Cactus with with wooly tufts instead of spines

A Lophophora williamsii Cactus with wooly tufts coming from the areoles instead of spines

Most people think of a cactus as a plant with spines but that is not always the case as there are plenty of non succulent plants that have spines on them like the common thorn bush or rose bush or Citrus tree, and there are a number of cacti that do not have any spines on them at all such as the Lophophora williamsii cactus and some of the Rhipsalis Epiphytic cacti.

Rhipsalis paradoxa

Rhipsalis paradoxa cactus without spines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desert cacti and Epiphytic ( Rainforest) cacti

There are two different groups of Cacti, the Desert cacti and the Epiphytic (Rainforest) cacti.

My Epiphyllum pegasus in fuschia pink flower

My Epiphytic cactus Epiphyllum pegasus in fuschia pink flower

Both groups require very different requirements in their growing conditions.

Cleistocactus samaipatanus

My Desert cactus Cleistocactus samaipatanus

Desert cacti in their natural habitats come from dry arid regions where rainfall is scarce and sunshine is high.

Epiphytic (Rainforest ) cacti in their natural habitats come from humid and shady tropical rainforests and hang as epiphytes on trees for support, they grow alongside other moisture loving plants such as Orchids and Ferns.

Here is  video below that  I have made that goes into detail about how you can care for and grow the Epiphytic cacti.