(redirected from Succulent plant)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.


(sŭk`yələnt), any fleshy plant that belongs to one of many diverse families, among them species of cactus, aloe, stonecrop, houseleek, agave, and yucca. Most succulents are indigenous to arid or semiarid regions, and their succulence is simply an evolutionary adaptation to the extreme heat and dryness of the environment. Typically the plants have greatly reduced leaves with a hard and heavily cutinized outer surface which minimizes evaporation from the inner, juicy tissue that can retain and store water over long periods. Many are grown horticulturally for their interesting and often grotesque forms, e.g., the ice plant; a few have very attractive flowers.


See H. Jacobsen, A Handbook of Succulent Plants (3 vol., 1973).



a perennial plant with juicy, fleshy leaves (agave, aloe) or stems (cacti, certain spurges); a special type of xero-phyte. Succulents grow in the deserts of Central, North, and South America; some are also encountered in the deserts of southern Africa. The few succulents that occur in the USSR belong to the family Crassulaceae.

The distinctive physical appearance of succulents, which evolved in the process of historical development, is related to their ability to accumulate water in their leaves or stems and to expend the water sparingly during prolonged drought. The leaves and stems have highly developed water-bearing parenchyma. The stems of some species of cacti store 1,000 to 3,000 kg of water; the plants often serve as a source of water for humans and animals during drought. The ability of succulents to expend small amounts of moisture is made possible by the heavy cutinization of the epidermis, by the presence of hairs, by the low osmotic pressure of the cellular juice, and by the presence of only a small number of low-lying stomata.

Succulents are photophilic. Growing under conditions of intense heat, they have developed an increased resistance to high temperatures as a result of the great viscosity of the plasma and the high content of bound water. At the same time, however, the protoplasm is characterized by low elasticity, and, therefore, the plants cannot tolerate dehydration.

Succulents grow slowly as a result of their economical expenditure of water and the nature of their carbon metabolism. In darkness the leaves store substantial quantities of CO2, which results in formation of organic acids. During dry seasons the stomata are closed, and the CO2 serves as the source of carbon. Part of the CO2 is released upon decomposition of the organic acids under the action of light. The formation of endogenous water during respiration maintains hydration of the cell contents and, thus, is of great importance in the life of succulents.

Succulents are widely used as ornamentals (cacti, aloe) and textile plants (agave). Some, for example, opuntias, are used as animal feed. The leaf and stem structure of succulents is also characteristic of many solonchak plants, although the latter have no adaptations for lowering transpiration.


Warming, E. Raspredelenie rastenii v zavisimosti ot vneshnikh uslovii (ekologicheskaia geografiia rastenii). St. Petersburg, 1902. (Translated from German.)
Genkel’, P. A. “Fiziologiia ustoichivosti rastitel’nykh organizmov.” In Fiziologiia sel’skokhoziaistvennykh rastenii, vol. 3. Moscow, 1967.
Vartapetian, B. B. Molekuliarnyi kislorod i voda v metabolizme kletki. Moscow, 1970.



Describing a plant having juicy, fleshy tissue.


1. (of plants) having thick fleshy leaves or stems
2. a plant that is able to exist in arid or salty conditions by using water stored in its fleshy tissues
References in periodicals archive ?
Washington, May 4 (ANI): A team of biologists have determined that cacti, succulent plants and tropical grasses emerged as the Earth cooled, increased in aridity, and had lower atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels.
Succulent plant leaves containing mesophyll cells and organic acid having more air space between cells, help in respiration.
This design uses a very shallow depth of growing media (3-6 inches) and the typical plant selections are Sedums, an alpine type of succulent plant, low growing and able to withstand extreme weather conditions typical on a roof surface.
He is a member of the succulent plant family Cactaceae often used as ornamental plants, but some are also crop plants.
But people afflicted with cactophilia are nevertheless drawn to the plant, says Tony Mace, webmaster of the Cactus and Succulent Plant Mall.
Get a succulent plant like echeveria, sedum or a crassula.
The succulent plant, which comes from Mexico, is currently growing at a rate of one foot a day and a pane of glass has had to be removed from the Arid House at Birmingham's Botanical Gardens to make way for the flower's stem.
Domitila of Aintree, Liverpool, joins an army of fans for products made from aloe vera, a succulent plant which flourishes in dry warm climates and is a member of the lily family.
Snails and slugs are pests that may be more problematic than usual because of the excessively succulent plant growth - especially favored by these mollusks - that is sure to follow our heavy rains.
Cheaper brands of Hoodia might contain small amounts of the succulent plant, which is not beneficial.
This new product, promoted by the manufacturer as an improvement over the original version, which you tried, contains extract from Yucca schidigera, a sword-leafed succulent plant that grows in the Mojave Desert.