How Many Succulents are There?

If you’re curious like me, you have probably wondered how many succulents are out there. In fact, you have quite a few because of how many plant families include some succulents within them. You can find them in over 60 different plant families. That should highlight the pervasiveness of succulents.

How many succulents are there? In total, you have an estimated 7,715 succulents, and there could be many more out there. That should highlight how many of these awesome plants that you could own. If you ever wanted to collect plants, you will have plenty in succulents alone!

What Classifies as a Succulent?

To understand why so many plants classify as succulents, we should first understand how they classify for this. That can help you to understand why there’s such a raw size to the succulents.

Generally, plant experts define succulents as plants that can resist drought. The plants, roots and stems can become fleshy because of the plants’ abilities to store water. These plants do well in dry environments because of how they originated in the desert and dry and arid climates.

You should also understand how the classifications can differ because of how people like the Squigman, who do succulents as a hobby, will regularly put the boot to cacti as a classified succulent. Succulent, meet boot; boot kick that cactus into the next yard!

With that said, while we don’t usually classify them cactus as succulents, botanists tell a different story. They classify it as succulents.

What Plant Families Can You Find Succulents?

You have a ridiculous number of plant families that hold a succulent or two in them. With that said, for the sake of brevity, we’ll cover a few of the main ones, but please understand how I–Squiggly Encarnado–for the sake of brevity and fluidity in this article–am not listing absolutely everything here: 

  • Apiales
  • Alismatales
  • Asparagales
  • Asterales
  • Brassicales
  • Caryophyllales
  • Commelinales
  • Cucurbitales
  • Cornales
  • Dioscoreales
  • Ericales
  • Saxifragales

Find any long-lost family members in there that your current succulent belongs to? Great! The other thing to keep in mind is that you also have subfamilies, but the thing to understand is this is by no means an extensive list. Let’s get back to the original topic at hand, shall we?

Plants That Even You Can’t Kill!

Let me be the first to admit, when I first began succulents and plants as a hobby years ago, they were all begging like, “No, please! I’ll be good! Don’t sell me to Squiggly!”

Even succulents were afraid to be owned by me as I killed enough plants to fill a couple graveyards. Succulents, in general, are noted for their hardiness. They can go for longer without water, and they can last longer, but even those fell to my ungreen thumb.

Some Plant Families Full of Succulents

You have some plant families that are filled to the brim with succulents. Some of the plant families that are an example of this include Crassulaceae, Cactaceae and  Aizoaceae. Most of the species under these three families categorize as succulents, which adds to the number of them.

In total, you probably have more than 100 different varieties of succulents, and that doesn’t even include the different types of species. With each of them, however, you should understand their different care needs to ensure that they receive the help that they need. They will require different amounts of water and sunlight.

How Can You Identify Your Succulent?

Let’s say that you have a mystery succulent that you received from a friend. You never got a name for it. How can you identify the plant? You have a few different characteristics that include:

  • Leaf size, leaf shape and leaf thickness
  • Stem texture, stem color and stem length
  • The color of the flowers, stems and leaves
  • The bumps and markings on the leaves
  • Does it have spikes, spines or is it smooth?
  • The shapes, colors and blooms of the flowers

Another one of the ways that you can identify a succulent is through joining one of the Facebook groups for plants. You have many great plant experts who can enlighten you about the type of succulent that you have. I have also learned all sorts of interesting things from this group.

Largest Families of Succulents

If you wanted to go with the largest succulent families, you might choose either the Aizoaceae or the Cactaceae. Each of these plant families contain over 2,000 species of succulents, which should highlight the depth of this species and how many you have.

In fact, if you were to take the total from both of these plant families, they total around 40 percent of all the succulents out there. That should show you how these are some of the most important plant families for succulents. Aizoaceae grow naturally and originally in South Africa, while Cactaceae have a natural distribution in the new world.

Types of Succulents

You have two main types of succulents, and they fall under either this or that category. Let’s outline them here to make it more understandable.

Soft Succulents: When we say soft succulents, these are the succulents that can’t survive lengthy periods of frost. Succulents like this can grow in zone 8, zone 9, zone 10 and zone 11 in the United States.

This category is extremely diverse, and you have many colors imaginable and even giant aloe trees. For example, you have a category called echeverrias.

Cold Hardy Succulents: These succulents grow well in zones 4, 5, 6 and 7. They can tolerate the cold more easily than soft succulents, and these succulents are low mainteance. Many of them will change colors throughout the year, which can be quite fun.

You could even turn cold hardy succulents into a lawn replacement in some cases. You can find these succulents in oranges and greens and yellows and purples. Usually, those that put out more chicks will bloom more often than those that don’t put out as many.

What is the best succulent?

The best is a personal preference, but if I had to say my favorite succulent of all time, right now, the Squigman’s favorite plant is the zebra haworthia. The beautiful colors of this succulent makes it even more desirable.

As you run your fingers along the zebra haworthia, you will feel unique and hardened worts on it. This leathery surface even makes the zebra haworthia hard to kill. The one thing that can kill this plant is frost and too much water.

You have tons of interesting succulents, so please don’t take this as the only interesting succulent.

One of the things that the Squigman likes about succulents as a hobby is that you have tons of different types. I like different succulents for different reason, and because there are so many succulents, it is easy to keep exploring. You can keep collecting new and interesting succulents all the time, and you most likely won’t run out.

Do you have a favorite succulent? Why not drop a comment below on your favorite succulent of all time. I’d love to learn more about my passion and discover great new succulents.

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