succulent

(redirected from Succulents)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.

succulent

(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.

Bibliography

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

Succulent

 

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.

REFERENCES

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.

P. A. GENKEL’

succulent

[′sək·yə·lənt]
(botany)
Describing a plant having juicy, fleshy tissue.

succulent

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 ?
For inspiration on everything from picking the most on-trend varieties to styling them artfully, check out succulent new book, Prick, by Gynelle Leon, founder of London's only dedicated cacti shop.
Cactus and succulents are known hosts for a number of exotic pests and diseases including a deadly plant bacteria called Xylella fastidiosa which if established, has the potential to devastate a large number of common plant species in Australia and would be almost impossible to eradicate.
A subset of xerophytes, succulents are able to survive an irregular, unpredictable, spotty or seasonal supply of water.
Beautiful but fragile and can't take much handling; the Succulent Society displays one in its greenhouse but doesn't propagate them for sale.
The double-H logo is a vertical garden displayed on a wall in the store's garden center, and filled with succulent plants, which live for years and require little water to survive.
Plant Guide: Maritime Succulent Scrub Region: Northwest Baja California, Mexico (Guia de Plantas de la regi n del matorral roset filo costero: noroeste de Baja California, Mexico)
Besides being able to store water in their stems and leaves, jade plants and other succulents have a couple of other tricks for solving this conundrum.
Chance, a professional gardener and member of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America and Colorado Cactus and Succulent Society, provides descriptions of many species of cacti, succulents, and companion plants that can thrive in colder, wetter climates if one follows his cultural tips for enhancing the hardiness of drought-tolerant plants.
The team then sifted through the literature on the timing of diversification in other succulents from regions around the globe.
In container gardens, succulents are a class of plants that come to the rescue in strangely beautiful forms.
Succulent Container Gardens: Design Eye-Catching Displays with 350 Easy-Care Plants offers a fine guide to combining, planting and nurturing succulents in containers ranging from hanging baskets to topiaries and miniature landscapes, floral arrangements and more.