Wondering What The Differences Between Cactus And Succulents Are?
When phrases like cacti and succulents are used, a misconception is that these are two different distinct groups of plants. In fact, All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.
Succulents are plants that stores water in juicy leaves, stems or roots in order to withstand periodic drought you will find in environments like deserts. There are about 50 different plant families within the group of succulents, including agave, aloe and not to forget cacti.
Do The Quiz
Before we explain the real difference between these families, make sure to test your knowledge! We have put together a small quiz for you. Are these Cacti or Succulents?
Cactus vs Succulents: The Differences
A cactus (Latin, cacti), is simply a succulent that can store moisture but is placed in a separate category called the Cactaceae family.
Cacti have small, round, cushion-like structures called “areoles” from which spines, branches, hair, leaves and flowers grow. While many succulents may look a lot like cacti in every other aspect, if they don’t have these circular “areoles”, they are not in the cactus (Cactaceae) family.
The Euphorbia plant from the quiz may look a lot like cacti but they lack the areoles of a cactus, witch makes it fit in the Euphorbia family instead.
What Do These Cactus Areoles Look Like?
To separate a cactus from any other species all comes down to a little thing called an areole which is a small raised area where the spines and flowers of a cactus arise from. The areoles you see on the nopal cactus are very obvious in the picture below. They are the white fuzzy areas the spines are protruding from.
The areoles on some other species may be a lot harder to find!