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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with cactus; nearly all cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti.
Succulent plants store water in their fleshy stems, or leaves, such as this Aloe
In botany, succulent plants, also known as succulents, are plants that have some parts that are more than normally thickened and fleshy, usually to retain water in arid climates or soil conditions. The word “succulent” comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning juice, or sap.1 Succulent plants may store water in various structures, such as leaves and stems. Some definitions also include roots, thus geophytes that survive unfavorable periods by dying back to underground storage organs may be regarded as succulents. In horticultural use, the term “succulent” is sometimes used in a way which excludes plants that botanists would regard as succulents, such as cacti. Succulents are often grown as ornamental plants because of their striking and unusual appearance.
Many plant families have multiple succulents found within them (over 25 plant families).2 In some families, such as Aizoaceae, Cactaceae, and Crassulaceae, most species are succulents. The habitats of these water preserving plants are often in areas with high temperatures and low rainfall. Succulents have the ability to thrive on limited water sources, such as mist and dew, which makes them equipped to survive in an ecosystem which contains scarce water sources.