A Guide to the Diverse World of Succulents

Succulents have taken the gardening world by storm with their unique and captivating beauty. The sheer variety of succulents can be overwhelming, with over 10,000 species worldwide. Whether you’re new to succulents or a seasoned plant enthusiast, this guide will introduce you to some of the most popular and intriguing types of succulents, helping you navigate the vast succulent landscape.

Succulent Genus vs Species

Before diving into the diverse world of succulents, it’s important to understand the distinction between genera and species. Genus refers to the category or type of plant, while species denotes the specific name of an individual plant. With approximately 300 known genera, the world of succulents offers endless possibilities. From the adorable chubby plants found at your local garden center to towering desert cacti, succulents encompass a wide range of forms and sizes.

Identifying Your Succulents

The leaves of succulents serve as a key feature for identification. Shape, color, and size can give you valuable hints about the type of succulent you have. Additionally, some succulents produce vibrant red, orange, yellow, purple, blue, or pink flowers. These blooms, although not present in all succulents, can provide further clues about the plant’s identity. Lastly, consider the stem and trunk of a succulent. Their thickness, color, and texture can aid in distinguishing between different types.

The Fascinating World of Succulents

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s embark on a journey through the captivating world of succulents. From the renowned echeverias to the diverse family of sedums, each type of succulent offers its own unique charm. Take a look at some highlights from the vast collection:

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Echeveria

Echeverias are a popular choice for succulent enthusiasts due to their stunning rosette shape and vibrant colors. These succulents come in various shades of green, pink, red, and purple. Some notable species include:

  • Echeveria ‘black knight’
  • Echeveria ‘black prince’
  • Echeveria ‘marrom’
  • Echeveria ‘perle von nurnberg’
  • Echeveria subsessilis ‘morning beauty’
  • Echeveria ‘arctic ice’
  • Echeveria ‘lilac wonder’
  • Echeveria ‘doris taylor’
  • Echeveria setosa
  • Echeveria ‘pulv-oliver’ (red echeveria)
  • Echeveria ‘blue heron’
  • Echeveria ‘afterglow’
  • Echeveria purpusorum (sometimes called ‘rose’)
  • Echeveria ‘dionysos’
  • Echeveria ‘preta’
  • Echeveria elegans ‘mexican snowball’
  • Echeveria ‘pollux’
  • Echeveria ‘purple pearl’
  • Echeveria haagai ‘tolimanensis’
  • Echeveria runyonii ‘topsy turvy’
  • Echeveria pulidonis ‘pulido’s echeveria’
  • Echeveria ‘lime ‘n chile’
  • Echeveria ‘taurus’

Sedum

Sedums are fast-growing succulents that come in various sizes. They are characterized by their thick, fleshy leaves, often arranged in a rosette shape. The colors of sedum leaves range from green to red, pink, or purple. Some common species of sedum include:

  • Sedum rubrotinctum ‘jelly beans’
  • Sedum rubrotinctum ‘aurora’
  • Sedum spurium ‘voodoo’
  • Sedum adolphii ‘firestorm’
  • Sedum ‘lime gold’
  • Sedum morganianum ‘burro’s tail’
  • Sedum morganianum ‘donkey’s tail’
  • Sedum takesimense ‘atlantis’
  • Sedum makinoi ‘variegatum’
  • Sedum dasyphyllum ‘major’ (corsican stonecrop)

Aloe

Aloes, often mistaken for cacti, feature fleshy, triangular-shaped leaves that store water. Some species have smooth leaves, while others have sharp spikes. Familiarize yourself with these common aloe species:

  • Aloe vera ‘barbados aloe’
  • Aloe polyphylla ‘spiral aloe’
  • Aloe ‘angelo’
  • Aloe aristata ‘lace aloe’
  • Aloe rauhii ‘snowflake aloe’
  • Aloe ‘delta lights’
  • Aloe juvenna ‘tiger tooth aloe’
  • Aloe humilis ‘spider aloe’
  • Aloe variegata ‘partridge breast aloe’
  • Aloe maculata (soap aloe)
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Agave

Agaves, often mistaken for cacti, boast thick, fleshy leaves that store water. Their size and shapes can vary significantly. Noteworthy agave species include:

  • Agave americana ‘century plant’
  • Agave attenuata ‘fox tail agave’
  • Agave tequilana ‘blue agave’
  • Agave victoriae-reginae (Queen Victoria Agave)
  • Agave geminiflora ‘twin flower agave’
  • Agave angustifolia ‘marginata’
  • Agave murpheyi ‘murphey’s agave’
  • Agave parryi ‘parry’s agave’
  • Agave havardiana ‘Havard’s agave’
  • Agave univittata ‘whirlwind agave’
  • Agave univittata ‘McKelvey’s century plant’

Aeonium

Aeoniums, native to the Canary Islands and Africa, showcase a variety of colors, including green, pink, red, purple, and yellow. Their rosette shape and variegated leaves make them a striking addition to any collection. Explore these aeonium species:

  • Aeonium haworthii ‘pinwheel’
  • Aeonium arboreum ‘zwartkop’
  • Aeonium ‘Sunburst’
  • Aeonium haworthii ‘kiwi’
  • Aeonium arboreum ‘tree aeonium’
  • Aeonium ‘blushing beauty’
  • Aeonium davidbramwelli ‘Bramwell’s aeonium’
  • Aeonium castello-paivae ‘Castello-Paiva’s aeonium’
  • Aeonium undulatum ‘wavy leaf aeonium’

Crassula

Crassulas exhibit a wide range of shapes and sizes. Their thick, fleshy leaves are a prominent characteristic. Notable crassula species include:

  • Crassula ovata ‘jade plant’
  • Crassula arborescens ‘silver jade plant’
  • Crassula ovata ‘gollum jade’
  • Crassula perforata ‘string of buttons’
  • Crassula mesembryanthemoides ‘tenelli’
  • Crassula ovata undulata ‘curly jade plant’
  • Crassula ovata ‘pink beauty’
  • Crassula platyphylla ‘daydream’
  • Crassula muscosa ‘watch chain’
  • Crassula rupestris ‘roseum’
  • Crassula rupestris ‘springtime pagoda’

Dudleya

Dudleyas, native to the western coast of North America, are characterized by their rosette shape and often produce yellow or white flowers. Notable dudleya species include:

  • Dudleya farinosa ‘bluff lettuce’
  • Dudleya brittonii ‘Britton’s liveforever’
  • Dudleya lanceolata ‘lanceleaf liveforever’
  • Dudleya pulverulenta ‘chalk liveforever’
  • Dudleya hassei ‘Hasse’s liveforever’
  • Dudleya caespitosa ‘tufted liveforever’
  • Dudleya cymosa ‘desert rose’
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Haworthia

Haworthias, native to South Africa, feature fleshy, triangular-shaped leaves that store water. Some have smooth leaves, while others have spikes. Explore these haworthia species:

  • Haworthia limifolia ‘fairy washboard’
  • Haworthia cooperi ‘cooper’s haworthia’
  • Haworthia fasciata ‘concolor’
  • Haworthia truncata ‘black haworthia’
  • Haworthia cymbiformis ‘boat lily’
  • Haworthia coarctata ‘bunched haworthia’
  • Haworthia cuspidata ‘star window plant’
  • Haworthia gracilis ‘slender hawthorne’

Senecio

Senecios come in various shapes and sizes and are native to Africa, Madagascar, and Sri Lanka. Thick, fleshy leaves are a defining characteristic. Notable senecio species include:

  • Senecio barbertonicus ‘succulent bush senecio’
  • Senecio rowleyanus ‘string of pearls’
  • Senecio serpens ‘blue chalksticks’
  • Senecio haworthii ‘cocoon plant’ (wooly senecio)

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoes, native to Madagascar, are known for their teardrop-shaped leaves that store water. Some possess smooth leaves, while others have spikes. Explore these kalanchoe species:

  • Kalanchoe delagoensis ‘mother of millions’
  • Kalanchoe daigremontiana ‘mother of thousands’
  • Kalanchoe beharensis ‘elephant ear’
  • Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi ‘paddle plant’
  • Kalanchoe thyrsiflora ‘flapjacks’
  • Kalanchoe longiflora coccinea ‘tugela cliff-kalanchoe’

Further Exploration

The world of succulents is nearly infinite, with countless species to discover. Some additional types worth exploring include Corpuscularia lehmannii (ice plant), Delosperma echinatum (pickle plant), Gasteria ‘green ice,’ Graptopetalum paraguayense (peach), Graptosedum ‘copper glow,’ Graptosedum ‘vera higgins,’ Graptoveria ‘blue pearl,’ and Peperomia nivalis.

Remember, learning about succulents is an ongoing endeavor. As you encounter these fascinating plants and delve into their diverse characteristics, you’ll continue to deepen your understanding and appreciation for their beauty. Enjoy your succulent journey and the endless possibilities they offer for garden and home decoration.

For more information, visit the Ames Farm Center and explore their extensive collection of succulents.