Water retaining plants adapted to arid climates and/or soil.

Succulents is a general term referring to water-retaining plants adapted to arid climates and/or soil. They are not a genetic group as such, and should not be confused with cacti. Although cacti are succulents, there are many unrelated succulent genera.

Succulents store water in their leaves, stems, and roots. Geophytes which store water in underground storage organs such as tubers, corms, and rhizomes; may be considered succulents.

Water saving adaptions found in succulents may include:

  • Crassulacean acid metabolism
  • Leaves that are absent, reduced, or cylindrical/spherical in shape (reduced surface area)
  • Reduced number of stomata
  • Photosynthesis mainly occurring in stems rather than leaves (eg. cacti)
  • Compact, reduced, columnar or spherical habit (reduced surface area)
  • Ribs enabling rapid increases in volume to contain water when available
  • Waxy, hairy, or spiny outer surface to create humid micro habitat
  • Roots near ground surface to absorb water from light showers or heavy dew
  • Ability to retain water despite high internal temperatures
  • Very impervious outer cuticle
  • Mucilaginous internal content (eg. aloe sap)

Succulents tend to come from dry areas of the tropics, and sub-tropics.

Use this tag for all general questions about succulents. These might include general care, or planning/caring for a xeriscape bed. Questions about specific plants should use the tag(s) for that plant, instead.

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