Whaf Are Succulents

A little cactus blooming bravely in a tenement cluster of "Hen and Chickens" in an old garden, the lofty spire of a Century Plant, the dark candelabra of a giant Saguaro silhouetted against a brazen desert sky—these are succulents. They get their name from the Latin succulenlus, which means juicy or fleshy, because they are all drought-resistant plants especially adapted to taking up and storing great quantities of water in their thick leaves, stems, or branches.

The succulents do not belong to any one family of plants. There are one or more succulent species in nearly thirty plant families. Although the cacti are perhaps the best-known family of succulents, it is important to remember that all succulents are not cacti. There are succulent plants in the Lily and Amaryllis families, the Daisy and Milkweed clan—even the Geranium family. Scores of common plants in our homes and gardens have curious succulent relatives the world over. But the story of succulents is not told with a simple definition.

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