Flowering succulent plant identification

Written by marlene affeld
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Flowering succulent plant identification
Autumn Joy sedum presents broad, flat clusters of pink flowers. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Sun-loving succulents are hardy perennial plants that store water for use during times of prolonged arid conditions. A perennial plant is a plant that lives for more than two years. Succulents may store water in their stems, leaves or roots, bulbs, tubers or rhizomes. Worldwide, there are more than 10,000 different species of flowering cactus, sedum and other succulents. The size, shape and colour of the flower are important elements in succulent plant identification.

Leaves

Flowering succulent plant identification
Many succulents exhhibit silver-green, thick, fleshy leaves. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Succulent leaves may be round, oblong, long and narrow or short and stubby. Succulents have thick-skinned fleshy leaves that are used to store moisture. Leaves are often coloured a deep blue-green, tinged with shades of red, orange, burgundy or brown. Crassula argentea f. variegata exhibits varigated green and white patterned leaves. Cacti (Cactaceae) do not have leaves and store water in their stem or trunk as well as in their roots.

Flowers

Flowering succulent plant identification
The flowers of succulents and cacti attract birds, bees and butterflies. (NA/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Many succulents, although similar in size and leaf shape, can be identified by their unique flowers. Examine the flowers, making note of the amount of flower petals, shape of the bloom, colour and scent. Succulent flowers appear in every colour of the rainbow. The majority of sedum plants present small starlike flowers that grow in wide, flat clusters. For example, Autumn Joy sedum exhibits starlike pink flowers that grow in flat clusters, 4 to 6 inches wide. The flowers turn a deep burgundy shade in late fall.

Crassula alpestris is a tiny, low-growing succulent in the plant family Crassula. The plant presents masses of tiny white flowers. Spring Time exhibits thick plumes of bright-pink flowers. Black tree aeonium (A. arboreum) displays dark, blackish-green foliage and brilliant yellow flowers.

Plant Size

Flowering succulent plant identification
Many succulents grow tall, with some reaching as high as 60 feet. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The size and growing habit of succulents are useful plant identification. Many succulents are low-growing ground cover plants while others are tall and stately. Pachycereus pringlei, also known as Cardon or Sahueso cactus, grows to a mature height of over 60 feet. The plant presents multiple branches that grow in an upright, candelabra form. The plant exhibits 4- to 6-inch-wide white flowers that bloom only at night.

Plant Form

Flowering succulent plant identification
Succulents usually have odd shapes unlike other plants. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

An unusual shape or form helps identify succulent plants. The Impala Lily (Adenium obesum multiflorum) has a thick swollen trunk, stubby branches, spiral shaped brilliant-green leaves and brightly coloured funnel-shaped flowers. Alluaudia ascendens, a hardy cacti, displays a thick pear-shaped trunk, leatherlike inverted heart-shaped leaves and ranked spines.

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