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Name your succulent

A gallery of succulent plants from window ledges and gardens around the world, to assist with identification of commonly-grown succulent plants. A correct name is the first step towards discovering how best to grow a plant, its place of origin and other information.

Most of the pictures have been sent with a query about the plant's name. Owners are gratefully acknowledged below each image.
Click on thumbnails for a larger image.

Conophytum
Conophytum bilobum  Photo: RJ Hodgkiss

As aids to identification, see:  Plants Illustrated on this Site   Thumbnails of Illustrations 

 


 googleimages
 

Try a googleimages search if you can guess the family, species or common name of your plant. It is surprising how many images of obscure plants can be found on the internet. However, beware of inappropriately named images. Look for a concensus on names with several images.

Aeonium

Aeonium arboreum "Schwartzkopf" is a selected form of the green Aeonium arboreum. This plant from the Canary Islands is a popular house plant and often used as a feature plant in summer bedding. It is not frost hardy. New plants are easily started from cuttings of individual rosettes. The plant is monocarpic so a flowering rosette inevitably dies.
 
Left: Grown and photographed by Cherry Trenge, 2003.
Right: flowering Aeonium arboreum "Schwartzkopf."
 
See: The Aeonium Page   for more information and a wider range of Aeoniums.

Aeonium
Aloe juvenna

Left: Aloe juvenna
This commonly grown Aloe is native to Kenya. The edges of the triangular leaves bear many small teeth. It is often confused with Aloe squarrosa from Socootra but can be distinguished by less reflexed leaves. It grows well on any sunny window ledge with minimal attention. As a summer grower, Aloe juvenna dislikes winter watering which should be minimal. It is rather shy of flowering compared with many small Aloes.
 
Left: Grown and photographed by Jim Myers, 2008.
 
See: The Aloe Page   for more information and a wider range of Aloes.

grafted cactus

Left: Grafted cactus
These curiousities are not one organism, but one cactus grafted onto another. The red top is a mutant Gymnocalycium, unable to make chlorophyll and therefore entirely dependent on the lower green grafting stock. Several species are sold as red grafts including G. mihanovichii cv. hibotan and G. stenopleurum, perhaps explaining the range of pinks that are seen among such grafts. The green stock is often an epiphytic cactus such as Epiphyllum or Hylocereus. Personally, I don't like them.
 
Photo: Lewis Coulson, 2007.

purple-dyed cactus

Left: Kosmic Kaktus
A range of cacti with brightly-dyed spines (purple, blue, red, green and yellow) sold under the brand: "Kosmic Kakus." This one is a Mammillaira gracilis, possibly the cultivar "Arizona Snowflake," which would naturally have gleaming white spines and small yellow flowers. Should the plant grow, any new growth will also have white spines and I'm not sure that customers are always aware of this.
 
There is also a range of dyed rosulate succulents e.g. Echeveria shaviana that would normally have lovely pinkish-grey rosettes. Personally, I'm appalled that anyone would do this to a cactus or succulent plant.
 
Photo: Andrea Hüper, 2014.


The genus Kalanchoe is the subject of many queries.

Kalanchoe beharensisKalanchoe beharensis

Kalanchoe beharensis  Drake 1903
A shrubby plant with a long grey-brown stem, made knobbly by leaf scars with sharp projections. Towards the ends of the stems are a few large, felted deltoid leaves with undulate margins. The leaf surface has white to brownish pubescence. The inflorescence is a panicle of many, small, pink to greenish-yellow flowers.

Native to dry forests of Southern Madagascar. Needs restarting regularly to look its best.
Left: Makes a fine specimen plant in a warm climate or conservatory.
 
Photo: Scot Corrigan 2014.

kalanchoe

Left: Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Bryophyllum daigremontiana)
Common names: Alligator Teardrop Plant, Flea Plant, mother of thousands.
An easily grown Kalanchoe for a sunny window ledge. Small plantlets form on the serrated leaf margins, drop off, and grow in any nearby plant pot. A large plant produces a cluster of orange flowers, which should be cut off after the flower is finished or the plant will die.
 
Photo: Kathy Bender 2014

kalanchoe

Left: Kalanchoe luciae
Common names: Flapjack Plant
A choice plant for a sunny position in a frost-free climate. In the shade, the leaves will go a boring green. This species tends to colour up naturally in full sun, but there is a particularly red cultivar called "Red Flapjack".
 
The rather similarly shaped Kalanchoe thrysiflora has glaucous green leaves with a farinose coating, but the two species are often confused in the horticultural trade.
 
Photo: Ivo Polach.

kalanchoe

Left: K. delagoensis (K. tubiflora)
 
An almost indestructible Kalanchoe that propagates by forming plantlets on leaf lips. These drop off and root in any nearby plantpot, so it is almost impossible to lose the clone. This plant grows up to 5 ft tall and produces an attractive cluster of orange flowers at the top of its stem.
 
See: The Kalanchoe Page  for more information and a wider range of Kalanchoes.
 
Grown and photographed by Cathy Sue Hawkins, 2003.


 
sempervivum

Left: Sempervivum (L. always living)
Common names: Houseleeks, Hens and Chicks
 
See: The Sempervivum Page  for more information and a wider range of Sempervivums.
 
Grown and photographed by Sandy Jacques, Pennsylvania, Spring 2003.

Senecio rowleyanusSenecio rowleyanus
Grown and photographed by Richard Hodgkiss, 2003.

Left: Senecio Rowleyanus.
Common names: String of Beads, String of Pearls
Named for Gordon Rowley, English botanist.

An easily grown Senecio from South Africa where it grows along the ground under scrubby bushes. Grows well in a hanging basket. The trailing and branching stems about one sixteenth of an inch in diameter bear single small spherical leaves about a quarter of an inch in diameter on short stems. Each leaf has a narrow clear window from stem to tip. Stems produce adventitious aerial roots that grow down where they make contact with soil. Flowers (left), produced on side shoots in the winter, are white tufts with purple stamens and a spicy perfume. Variegated cultivars are sometimes available.