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Name your succulent

A gallery of succulent plants and curiosities 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 on this page have been sent with a query about the succulent's name. Some species have featured several times. Owners are gratefully acknowledged below each image.
Click on thumbnails for a larger image.
As aids to identification, see:




Try a googleimages search if you can guess the family, species or common name of your succulent. 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. Then do an image search on that species name and see if most of the pictures are similar to your succulent plant.
If you can't guess a name, all is not lost. You can try entering a description e.g. hairy leaf succulent   Aloe yellow flower   fleshy reddish leaf on trailing stems

Photo: Cherry Trenge 2003

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 but the stem will usually have produced sufficient offsets for propagation.
See: The Aeonium Page  for more information and a wider range of Aeoniums.

Aloe juvenna

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.


Some cactus queries

grafted cactus
Photo: Lewis Coulson 2007

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. An elongated yellow grafted cactus is also seen that is probably a chlorophyll-deficient Chamaocereus silvestrii Syn. Syn. Echinopsis chamaecereus. The green stock is often an epiphytic cactus such as Epiphyllum or Hylocereus. Personally, I don't like these grafts but it's the only way to propagate thse mutations. They must be quite popular as they are widely stocked by garden centres.

Rhipsalis salicorniodes
Photo: Robert Bendesky 2005
Rhipsalis salicorniodes
Photo: Robert Bendesky 2005

Rhipsalis salicorniodes
which has barrel-shaped joints growing into a single stem. This is an epiphytic cactus from the rain forests of South America and needs more frequent watering and humidity than most desert cacti.
This species is very similar to R. bambuscoides which has club-shaped joints.

purple-dyed cactus
Photo: Andrea Hüper 2014

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. 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 which will develop should the plant grow offsets. Personally, I'm appalled that anyone would do this to a cactus or succulent plant.

Tephrocactus articulatus var. papyracanthus
Photo: Farmer Matt 2015

Tephrocactus articulatus var. papyracanthus
A cactus with a well-jointed grey-body offset by white papery spines with glochids at their base. In my experience, the spines are not as harmless as they appear.
Native to Argentina.
See: The Cactus Page  for more information and a wider range of choice and easy to flower cacti.


Plants from the genus Kalanchoe

are the subject of many queries.

See: The Kalanchoe Page  for more information and a wider range of Kalanchoes. These popular leafy suculents are mostly easy to grow on a sunny window ledge.

Kalanchoe beharensisKalanchoe beharensis
Photo: Scot Corrigan 2014

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: Kathy Bender 2014

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: Ivo Polach.

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: Cathy Sue Hawkins 2003

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.


Liverwort a primitive non-vascular plant.
Not a succulent plant, but it does look quite fleshy. Commonly found in damp, shady corners of a lawn or on damp rocks. The "suckers" are the fruiting bodies.

pilea peperomioides
Photo: Bob Downie 2015

Left: Pilea peperomioides
One of the few truly succulent members of the genus Pilea.
Makes an undemanding shade-tolerant houseplant.

Peperomia asperulaPeperomia asperula

Left: Peperomia asperula
A small succulent plant that would be at home in a terrarium or bottle garden.
Grown and photographed by Quinn 2015.
See: The Peperomia Page  for more information and a wider range of Peperomias.

Photo: Sandy Jacques, Pennsylvania, Spring 2003

Left: Sempervivum (L. always living)
Common names: Houseleeks, Hens and Chicks
These mat-forming succulents come in a range of colours and forms, are generally hardy through a cold-wet Winter, yet provide an exotic look to patio planters and temperate gardens.
See: The Sempervivum Page  for more information and a wider range of Sempervivums.

Senecio rowleyanusSenecio rowleyanus
Grown & photographed by RJ 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.
See: The Ragwort Page  for more information and a wider range of Senecios.


Stapeliads - carrion flowers

Stapelia gigantea
Photo: Sally Jordan 2003

Left: Stapelia gigantea  N.E. Brown 1877
This stem succulent has large flowers with a perfume of rotting carrion designed to attract blow flies as its natural pollinator.
Native to South-Eastern Africa.

seed horns seed horns
Photo: Jan Gielkens 2004

Left: seed horns
These are not flower buds but seed horns on these Stapeliads. Fertilised flowers of Asclepiadaceae typically produce a pair of seed pods. The seeds within are packaged with a mass of silky parachutes to aid wind dispersal.