Succulents refer to higher plants with hypertrophy vegetative organs, usually with three vegetative organs of root, stem, and leaf and three reproductive organs of flowers, fruits, and seeds. In horticulture, it is also called succulent or succulent flower, but the name succulent is most commonly used.
There are more than 10,000 species of succulents in the world, most of which belong to higher plants (most of which are angiosperms). It belongs to dozens of families in plant classification, and some experts think there are 67 families containing succulents, but most experts think there are only more than 50 families.
Succulents are popular as potted plants around the world, with the most common species currently belonging to the Crassulaceae and Cacti family, with South Africa and Mexico having the highest concentrations of succulents in the world. Japan, America, and Western Europe have many famous hybrids.
Succulents are plants that have at least one of their three vegetative organs, root, stem, and leaf, which is thick and juicy and has the function of storing a lot of water. It has at least one fleshy tissue, which is a living tissue that, among other functions, stores available water and allows plants to survive independently of external water supplies temporarily when the water content in the soil deteriorates and plant roots can no longer absorb and provide the necessary water from the soil. Sometimes people like to refer to these plants as desert plants or psammophytes, which is not quite accurate. Many succulents indeed grow in desert areas (including parts of more than 50 families, such as cacti, apricot, Crassulaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Apocynaceae, Unicorniaceae, and Asparaceae), but not all of them. There are also many non-succulent plants growing in deserts.
As a result of long-term adaptation to a drought environment, the vegetative organs of cacti and succulents have undergone great changes. The original leaves have degenerated into needle-like leaves in most cacti plants, and often only become traces or fall early in Euphorbiaceae succulents. But in most other families of succulent plants still exist, but with different degrees of succulence; In the cactus species, the stem has not only replaced the leaf as the main organ for photosynthesis but also has a high ornamental value due to its myriad changes. But many other families of succulents do not have stems or have very short stems. In addition, the cactus also has a unique organ spine. Therefore, cactus species must be listed separately to facilitate the description of morphology.
The plants with sedatonic acid metabolism pathway are many succulent plants, they absorb CO₂ through the open hole at night, and then with the help of PEP carboxylase and phosphoenolpyruvate combination, oxaloacetic acid, and then in malate dehydrogenase (NADPH) under the action of reduction into malic acid, into vacuoles and accumulated acid (from pH5~3); The second day after illumination malic acid from the vacuole transported back to the cytoplasm and chloroplast decarboxylation, release CO₂ is absorbed by RuBP to form carbohydrates.
The water storage tissue is mainly in the leaf. The stem is not succulent generally, part of the stem is slightly lignified. The degree of succulence of leaves was different according to the degree of drought. Species native to less arid areas has larger and thinner leaves. It is wetter than other parts of South Africa, so the flower vine has larger and thinner leaves. The plant shape is the vine, and the shape is not very different from ordinary grass flowers. As the environment became drier, the stem of succulent plants became shorter and the leaf matter became thicker. Some species of apricot, found in extremely arid areas, consist of only one or two pairs of leaves, with the stem completely gone and the leaves highly fleshy.
Africa is the hottest continent in the world, but one should not assume that succulents like heat. There are only three small areas in Africa with more succulent species: South Africa and Namibia, the Canary Islands and Madeira, Madagascar and Somalia, and Ethiopia in East Africa.
South Africa and Namibia
South Africa has a relatively cool climate and is one of the richest regions in plant life. With a noticeably longer dry season each year, the region has the largest variety of succulents in the world. It is home to most of the succulent species in the families of apricot and Aphoxaceae, as well as to many groups in the families of Crassulaceae (acanthomyceae, Solanaceae), Apocynaceae, and Euphorbiaceae. South Africa is also a very diverse region of terrain and microclimate, roughly 25 degrees east longitude as the boundary, the eastern annual rainfall is more than 500 mm, the dry season in winter; The annual rainfall in the west is less than 500 mm, and the further west it gets drier. The dry season is in summer, but the southern coast is wetter. As a result, the succulents native to South Africa differ greatly in their habits and are referred to in cultivation as “summer” species (growing in summer, hibernating in winter) and “winter” species (growing in winter, hibernating in summer). For example, in Crassulaceae, The genus Acanthopanthus, purslane, and Acanthopanaceae can be strictly divided into two types, and the “winter” and “summer” species of Acanthopanaceae even have obvious differences in appearance. In the genus, there are three species, which are usually considered to be dormant in summer. They are distributed in Transvaal and Orange in eastern South Africa and do not hibernate in summer.
Namibia’s climate is drier than that of South Africa, and the Atlantic coast is a large cold coastal desert, the Namib Desert, due to the influence of the powerful Benguela current. Local succulents such as the centenarian, arhynchus of the family Apocynaceae, and banana of the family Apocynaceae are rare and endangered species that are very difficult to breed.
The Canary Islands and Madeira
The Canary Islands and Madeira islands in the Atlantic ocean are volcanic and fertile. But there is not much rain because of the cold Canarian current nearby. The main succulents on the island are in the family Crassulaceae: Lotus and Sedum. These two genera, with a total of about 119 species, are endemic to the two islands and are not distributed elsewhere. In addition, some species of chandeliaceae of Apocynaceae are distributed here. The eucheylin of Euphorbiaceae and the dragon’s blood tree of Phylloderma are also local specialties. They are tall and often form a unique landscape.
Madagascar and Somalia and Ethiopia in East Africa
Madagascar is only 400 kilometers from the African continent, but its flora and fauna form a unique system. The climate of the island is quite different in the North-East and South-West. Succulents are mainly distributed in the southwest tropical dry and wet season climate region. In terms of plant classification, plants related to the Cactus family are unique to the island. There are more than 50 species of plants in the genus Lamiaceae. The oleander family of African king trees, up to 8 meters tall trunk, beautiful plant shape, together with the palm family of plants constitute the island’s unique landscape. Succulents of the Cucurbitaceae family are currently popular internationally, and two of these genera, Cucurbitaceae and Cucurbitaceae, are endemic to the island.
The countries of East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, and Ethiopia) are also important distribution areas of succulents. Kenya and Tanzania are home to a variety of exotic plants, such as Asteraceae, Cucurbitaceae, and Euphorbiaceae. The whole of Somalia is a relatively flat low plateau, with annual precipitation of 200-500 mm; The local distribution of succulent plants are aloe, desert rose, anatidynia, balsam pear, oleander, etc. Ethiopia has a high altitude and a cold summer climate.
The Main Value
* The following information is for reference only. Do not take any plants that may be harmful to you without the guidance of relevant professionals.
Several succulents (including cacti) have medicinal properties. For example, people can choose the cactus that thorn little flesh is thick to belong to plant stem piece to peel pounce after apply, can treat carbuncle furuncle wait for skin disease. The stems and thick, fleshy roots of a globular cactus, aconite, contain an alkaloid called mescaline, which has hallucinogenic effects. The Mexican Indians used to drink tequila and eat aconite (‘peyote’ as the locals called it) during their religious ceremonies. The consumption of aconite during these all-night orgies was staggering. They also seem to have been very protective, gathering the plant without digging at its roots but with knives to the ground, so that the fleshy roots in the soil can quickly grow new bulbs. Two other rare ornamental plants, moon world, and rock peony contain the same ingredients and are used as substitutes.
Other families of succulents also have medicinal plants, including some in the genus Cyanosauria, which are very effective against cardiovascular disease. Native to Mexico, it is widely grown in the United States and Puerto Rico for its ability to produce cortisone and other hormones and is used as an ingredient in some birth control pills. The Moroccan Euphorbia resinifera has been used as a medicinal plant since ancient times. Its white juice can be used to make ointments for treating skin diseases, diarrhea, and mucositis. Aloe is the most widely used medicinal succulent, aloe has hundreds of species, according to other literature records, the most medicinal value of aloe has Ethiopian aloe, wood aloe, Bayes aloe, and red crocodile aloe. Aloe leaves are rich in aloin, aloe-emodin and eight amino acids, a variety of vitamins, and other beneficial nutrients. It can treat scabies, acne, and burns, cutting wounds, abrasions, frostbite, laceration, burns without leaving scars, but also effective on constipation, hemorrhoids, gastric ulcer, tuberculosis, and hypertension, and can control tumor growth, improve human immunity, so it is widely used in the cosmetics industry, food, and pharmaceutical industry.
Succulent plants are various in variety and peculiar in shape, which can show a strong exotic atmosphere in landscape architecture and create a beautiful artistic effect in landscape architecture. As for its garden application, Beijing Botanical Garden has discussed the interior decoration and application of cactus and succulent plants, to provide suitable maintenance and management methods and landscaping methods for public indoor greening.
The introduction base of succulent plants also actively explores different landscaping methods through actual cultivation. On the one hand, the main landscape frame is constructed by using tall columnar and huge spheres such as large woody plants such as the Queensland bottle trunk tree and elephant leg tree as the skeleton species. At the same time, groups with relatively small plant types and different plant types are used to assist the main landscape and enrich the plant landscape. On the other hand, many kinds of succulents in landscape box cultivation or pot cultivation are very suitable for modern family cultivation, and more and more attention is paid to the interior decoration and layout of succulents.
Solitary plants are graceful and peculiar in shape, usually consisting of tall columns and large spheres, which are used to form the mainframe and give a sense of grandeur and power.
Planting plants are mainly used to assist the main scene. After determining the theme plants, other plants follow the principle of “groups of three or five with different colors” according to the size, shape, and color of plants. Or gather or scatter, or deviate or depart; The setting principle of high and low scattered and dense, reasonable collocation. This kind of plant has many species, peculiar plant shapes, and relatively small individuals, which is suitable for classification and concentrated display when landscaping. For example, under the tall yellow flower cactus plant cactus family planet genus, black feather jade plant, under the Queensland bottle trunk tree plant cactus family, White reed plant, milkweed subfamily.
Succulents are easier to reproduce because of their well-developed meristems. The commonly used methods are grafting, cutting, sowing, root transplanting, dividing, leaf transplanting, and intercepting growing points. Leaf intercropping was the most efficient in the propagation of Crassulaceae and was adopted by most people. The growth points are most suitable for succulents of Genus Varrocalamus. Grafting propagation is most widely used in the cacti family.