Is A Cactus A Succulent?

The definition of a Cactus can be described as “any numerous of succulent, spiny, usually leafless plants of the family Cactaceae,” according to dictionary definitions.

These plants that are ambiguous, indigenous to the regions of the Americas are easily identifiable by their many stamens and, sometimes, vibrant flowers.

Cactus plants today are a popular choice for decorations in the home. Although they are adored by everyone Cacti are often misunderstoodand few people are aware of the background of the prickly plant.

The beautiful, but prickly plants can be the source confusion for casual gardeners, and a lot aren’t aware of what cactus plants are actually.

Many people mistake succulents for cactus or think they’re identical (in short, they’re distinct and similar. Confusing, right? ).

This article aims to reveal the differences between a cactus and succulent, and what they share in common. Continue reading to learn more.

Is a succulent a plant?

Succulents are, as a matter of fact, are plants that can withstand drought because of the water-storing tissue ‘fleshy’ in their roots, leaves or stems’ capacity to hold water.

The name comes of the Latin word sucus which translates to “sap” or “juice”, probably due to its leaves, stems and roots contain sap-like substances due to their ability to hold lots of water. The most well-known succulent can be found in the Aloe Vera Plant.

Similar to Cacti, succulents can be found in deserts and in warmer regions of the globe. The most common places to see succulents include The Americas, Africa, Mexico and the Mediterranean and many more!

The ability of succulents to store water within their stems, leaves and roots is the reason for their fleshy, bloated appearance. Actually some succulents are made up of between 90 and 95 percent water!

cactus in a row in front of wooden windowsill

In addition to their capacity to conserve water, succulents possess other distinctive traits. They include:

  • Cylindrical leaves, or leaves that are reduced/absent
  • Instead of leaves, stems are used instead
  • Hairy, waxy or spiny “skin”
  • Roots that are near to the top of the soil
  • Capable of enduring extremely extreme temperatures and drought conditions , while also conserving a lot of water
  • Spherical, cushion-like, compact or columnar growth forms

You might be thinking, however, what if these traits are also found in Cacti? What’s the difference?

What is the Cactus?

The name Cactus comes in the Latin word Kaktos which means’spiny plant’.. The plant then developed its name Cactaceae to describe any plant that appears to possess the following characteristics:

  • There are very few leaves, and sometimes none even
  • Hairy and/or prickly appearance
  • Capability to store lots of water within their stems

It is believed that the cacti were first discovered at least thirty million years ago. They are found in a variety of shapes and sizes , and their natural habitat is those which are prone to drought, particularly the desert. This is why they are able to store a lot of water to prepare for the times they don’t be able to see water for months at for a period of time.

If you’ve ever thought about the reasons behind their hairy appearance, it’s to defend them from herbivores.

The desert plants have managed to have a new home in recent times, but they are found in the homes of most people.

The houseplant that is adored by homeowners because of their distinctive design and appearance, as well as the fact that they require minimal maintenance which means they are able to be kept for long durations of time and flourish by themselves.

They are not just used beautiful decorations, but in certain parts of the world, certain varieties of cactus can be utilized for food preparation like the Indian Cactus of Figs, for instance.

In reality, the majority of succulent cactus species can be eaten. A popular example can be the Dragon fruit that is consumed throughout the world.

What is a succulent, then?

Are succulents part of a cactus?

The cactus plant is part of the family of plants known as Cactaceae, while succulent plants are part of the larger group known as “Succulent”.

However, Cactaceae are scientifically considered succulents, however they are not often included in the literature on succulents.

To reduce it to the most basic phrases, a succulent is not a cactus. However, it does fall under the umbrella of’succulent’.

The reason for this is that the standard to determine a succulent is a plant with the characteristic referred to as’succulence’. This is the capacity to store a lot of water in their stems, leaves or roots. This is something succulents excel at!

This does not mean that succulents and cacti are the same, however, as can be seen by the distinctions that are listed above.

What is the difference between succulent and a catus?

Most people, however, aren’t aware that cacti and succulents aren’t the same thing. There’s not much distinction between a cactus and succulent.

Many people tend to use them interchangeably because they appear alike and function in nearly exactly the same way.

The primary distinction between a catus and a succulent catus is that cacti do not have leaves and tend to be hairy and/or spiky while succulents tend to develop leaves and are usually soft to the touch.

However, even though it is more typical for a cactus to appear hairy and spiky, and for a succulent to appear smooth, the traits that make a succulent a succulent include hairy and/or’spiny’ in appearance.

What’s the matter with Cacti? Are they really succulents at all?

Final say

The distinction between a cactus and succulents can be difficult, especially due to the many things they have in common.

Both are extremely desirable house plants that are alike in appearance and care It’s not uncommon to use literature to describe them as if they’re identical.

There are many traits that are common to them however, there are also instances where they differ.

The most important distinction between them is their leaves, or the absence of them. Cacti don’t tend to develop leaves, while succulents can.

According to the definition the term “succulent” refers to all plants that are able to store water within its stems. Therefore that all cactus plants are succulents, however they’re not all Cacti. Let’s say that they’re all related but not identical.




Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)