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Is a Cactus a Succulent? - Varnish + Vine

Is a Cactus a Succulent?

Most people know what a cactus is, but fewer people are familiar with the term succulent. So, what exactly does this term mean? And is a cactus a succulent? This brief article will explain what a succulent is and examine whether a cactus is an example of a succulent or vice-versa.

What is a succulent?

When used in botany, the term succulent refers to plants that have certain characteristics, including parts that are thick, fleshy, or otherwise engorged, usually for the purpose of retaining water. Due to these characteristics, succulents are often able to last most longer than normal plants without water due to their increased rates of water absorption and retention.

What is the difference between succulents and other types of plants?

All plants require water to live, and for the most part, they require water frequently; otherwise, they will wither and die; this is because plants normally use their store of water to grow and facilitate the process of photosynthesis, which converts sunlight into oxygen.

On the other hand, succulents have evolved in such a way that allows them to retain relatively vast amounts of water for future use; as a result of this enhanced water storage capability, succulents can sometimes survive for weeks or even months without any new source of hydration.

Is a cactus a succulent?

A cactus is the posterchild of the variety of plants known as succulents. When most people picture a cactus, they immediately imagine a desert scene devoid of water; with few exceptions, only a succulent could survive in such inhospitable conditions. Cacti are able to thrive in barren desert conditions without water for long periods of time for exactly this reason because they are succulents, they can store a ton of water for future use.

Do all succulents live in deserts?

Although many succulents thrive in the desert, it is a misconception that cacti only live in desert regions. In fact, many different varieties of cacti can be found on office desks and in living rooms all throughout the United States, and in fact, all over the world. Cacti, and other succulents, make excellent house plants due to their hardiness, durability, and overall low maintenance.

What are some common succulents?

Some of the most common succulents include the Monstrose Cactus, The Peruvian Apple Cactus, The Fairytale Cactus, the San Pedro Cactus, the Jade Plant, Haworthia, and the very popular, world-famous Aloe Vera, renowned for its medicinal and healing properties.


Succulents are a type of plant characterized by their thick, fleshy parts and ability to store increased volumes of water for prolonged periods of time. The most famous example of a succulent is the cactus, which is well known for its ability to thrive in barren deserts devoid of water for extended periods. Although many succulents thrive in the desert, you can also find cacti and other succulents, such as Aloe Vera, in homes all over the world due to their resilience and beginner-friendly, low-maintenance nature.

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