Pictures of Cacti and Succulents

  • 01 of 14

    Portulaca Picture

    Portulaca picture. The plant in the picture has a white flower, but portulaca comes in many colors.
    Annual Succulent Portulaca picture. The plant in the picture has a white flower, but portulaca comes in many colors. David Beaulieu

    Plus Agave, Yucca


    Cacti and succulents come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of the tiny ones are best-suited to miniature garden arrangements, while giants such as the saguaro would be too big to be displayed suitably in some front yards! I use the terminology "cacti and succulents" here merely out of deference to popular convention. All cacti are, in fact, considered to be succulents (but not all succulents are cacti). View my pictures of cacti and succulents for some examples.


    I include...MORE photos of the succulents known as agave and yucca in this gallery. Although often thought of in connection with cacti, agave and yucca belong to a group of plants distinct from cacti.


    Succulents are known for their fleshy foliage. But other plants, as well, bear such "leathery" leaves, including:


    1. Montauk daisy
    2. Bitterroot

    Portulaca plants (also commonly called "moss rose") are annuals....


    However, these succulents reseed readily. Portulacas are a good choice for areas with poor soils, and they can stand up to a pounding sun all day long. They are also popular in hanging baskets, their prostrate growth habit allowing them to cascade down the side of a container. The different colors they come in look wonderful mixed together.


    The edible weed named "purslane" is another type of portulaca.


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  • 02 of 14

    Pictures of Cacti and Succulents: Hen and Chicks

    This hen and chicks picture is of Sempervivum 'Yancha Mizu'. There are many types of hen and chicks.
    Cute Succulent With Cute Name This hen and chicks picture is of Sempervivum 'Yancha Mizu.' There are many types of hen and chicks plants. David Beaulieu

    Mat-forming succulents, hen and chicks produces clusters of rosettes....


    The parent rosettes are the "hens," and the smaller rosettes that spring from them are the "chicks." This low-growing (4") perennial will quickly spread to 2' or more in width. Although grown for its leaves, hen and chicks plant does flower, occasionally.


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  • 03 of 14

    Autumn Joy Stonecrop

    Autumn Joy sedum picture. Unlike some succulents, Autumn Joy sedum is grown for its flowers.
    Sedum Picture: A Fall Favorite Autumn Joy stonecrop picture. Unlike some succulents, Autumn Joy stonecrop is grown for its attractive blooms as well as its succulent foliage. David Beaulieu

    Unlike the succulent in the prior picture, Autumn Joy stonecrop is very much grown for its flowers....


    Sedum 'Autumn Joy wants full sun to partial shade and a well-drained soil. A popular plant for xeriscaping, Autumn Joy is a good candidate for rock gardens.


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  • 04 of 14

    Frosty Morn Sedum

    Sedum 'Frosty Morn' picture. As the photo shows, Sedum 'Frosty Morn' has variegated leaves.
    Variegated Sedum Sedum 'Frosty Morn' picture. As the photo shows, Sedum 'Frosty Morn' has variegated leaves. David Beaulieu

    Some sedums bear variegated leaves....


    The name of this sedum cultivar, 'Frosty Morn,' refers to the white tinges on its otherwise green leaves. 'Frosty Morn' is grown primarily for its foliage.


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  • 05 of 14

    Angelina Sedum Photo

    Picture of Angelina sedum plants. The Angelina sedum in the photo is brimming with yellow flowers.
    Flowering Succulent With Chartreuse Foliage Picture of Angelina sedum plants. The Angelina sedum in the photo is brimming with yellow flowers. David Beaulieu

    The gold flowers that emerge in spring on Angelina sedum can be a nice bonus added to the appeal of its chartreuse foliage, as long as you don't mind the rather gangly stems they bloom on....


    But for me, it's the chartreuse foliage of these succulents that is the main draw for growing them. I like both its color and its feel. Angelina sedum will spread over time, so if you make it a point to avoid growing plants that fail to receive the highest marks for being well-behaved, you may not wish...MORE to grow it.


    Mass Angelina sedum plants together for use as a groundcover or short perennial border.


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  • 06 of 14

    Sedum Spurium Picture

    Dragon's Blood sedum picture. Dragon's Blood sedum has reddish stems and pink flowers.
    Succulent With a Colorful Common Name Sedum spurium 'Dragon's Blood' picture. David Beaulieu

    With a common name like "Dragon's Blood," one expects a lot of color out of this sedum....


    But how much color you get depends on the amount of sunshine you give it, among other factors. The Sedum spurium 'Dragon's Blood' in the picture has reddish stems and pink flowers. Some types of Sedum spurium have red flowers and/or red leaves, as well.


    Being a succulent, there is a fleshy feel to this plant that some gardeners may find appealing (if you're the type that likes to touch your plants...MORE frequently, as I do). Furthermore, as with most succulents, Sedum spurium is drought-tolerant.


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  • 07 of 14

    Pictures of Cacti and Succulents: Ice Plant

    Ice plant picture. As the photo shows, ice plant has attractive flowers and interesting foliage.
    Delosperma Cooperi Ice plant picture. As the photo shows, ice plant has attractive flowers and interesting foliage. David Beaulieu

    This ice plant is one of the hardy succulents and can be left outside in winter all the way to planting zone 5. However, that's not how it received its name....


    Rather, its the "icy" look of its foliage that earns it its name. An optical illusion is caused by the way light bounces off the tiny hairs on the surface of the ice plant's leaves, mimicking the appearance of ice crystals. There are a number of different types of ice plant. The ice plant in this picture is a type known as Delo...MOREsperma cooperi.


    If I had to choose between the succulents I've covered so far in terms of recommending the one that best combines beautiful flowers with attractive foliage, my selection would be ice plant.


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  • 08 of 14

    Yucca Plant Picture

    Photo of Yucca nana. A dwarf plant, Yucca nana bears the white threads (filaments).
    Dwarf Yucca Plant Picture of yucca plant. This yucca plant is a dwarf, as indicated by the species name, "nana.". David Beaulieu

    Photo of a yucca plant....


    A dwarf plant, the sword-shaped leaves of the Yucca nana shown in the picture bear the threads (or "filaments") that give another type of yucca its scientific plant name: Yucca filamentosa, commonly known as "Adam's needle."


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  • 09 of 14

    Picture of a Joshua Tree

    Picture of Joshua tree. The botanical name for Joshua trees is Yucca brevifolia.
    Why the Name, "Joshua"? Joshua tree photo. David Beaulieu

    My picture of a Joshua tree above shows what Yucca brevifolia looks like. But you may wonder about the origin of the common name....


    There's even a park in California named "Joshua Tree National Park." It is located in the Mojave Desert. So where does the name "Joshua" come from for this tree?


    Andrew Alden explains that it was the Mormon pioneers who were responsible for naming the Joshua tree. The reference is to the Book of Joshua in the Old Testament (8:18–29). The passage states that a Hebrew...MORE army, wielding javelins (on an order from God to "stretch out the javelin that is in your hand"), took the city of Ai and "raised over it a great heap of stones."


    Andrew asserts that "the name 'Joshua tree' surely derives from the stony landscape of the Mojave as well as the trees' outstretched arms and javelin-tip leaves."


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  • 10 of 14

    Agave Picture

    Agave picture. Although it's not a cactus, agave, as the photo shows, is easily mistaken for a cactu
    Cactus-Like Succulent Agave picture. Although it's not a cactus, agave, as the photo shows, is easily mistaken for a cactus. David Beaulieu

    The plant in this picture is an agave, which also belong to a family of plants called "Agave"....


    Confused? To clear up any confusion, simply look to see whether the name is capitalized or not. With a capital "A," I'm referring to a plant family. With a lower-case "a," I'm referring to a subset of that family. What other plants are in the Agave family, besides the agave? Well, one example is another plant I've been discussing in this photo gallery, namely, the yucca.


    Remember, while plants in the...MORE Agave family may resemble cactus, they are, in fact, distinct from their more famous desert cousins. Both groups of plants are, however, succulents.


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  • 11 of 14

    Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit Picture

    Picture of prickly pear cactus fruit.
    A Hardy Cactus Picture of prickly pear cactus fruit. David Beaulieu

    Prickly pear cactus has yellow flowers. But that only begins to tell the tale of this fascinating plant....


    Prickly pear cactus foliage reaches at most a little over one foot tall. But it's not just a foliage plant or a flowering plant, as it also bears an edible fruit (the red you see in my picture). If you enjoy edible landscaping, you may wish to experiment with growing this tough plant. Its scientific plant name is Opuntia compressa.


    It is one of the hardiest of the cacti. The photo above was...MORE taken in Arizona, but Opuntia is represented east of the Mississippi by Eastern prickly pear cactus.


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  • 12 of 14

    Pictures of Cacti and Succulents: Cholla Cactus

    Cholla cactus picture. There are a number of types of cholla cactus.
    Spiny Succulent Cholla cactus picture. There are a number of types of cholla cactus. David Beaulieu

    It's sometimes hard to think of cacti, such as the cholla cactus, as "succulents," even though that's how they're classified....


    That's because we also use the word "succulent" colloquially to refer to delicious, juicy food. And even though some cacti have edible parts, our first impression when we see such spiny plants is, "There's no way that's coming anywhere near my mouth!"


    Nonetheless, the cholla cactus and other cacti do store water in their tissues -- the basic definition of a succulent...MORE plant.


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  • 13 of 14

    Barrel Cactus Picture

    Barrel cactus picture. This photo shows one of the types of barrel cactus.
    A Popular Houseplant Barrel cactus picture. This photo shows one of the types of barrel cactus. David Beaulieu

    Some types of barrel cactus plants are popular as houseplants....


    But for some of us, houseplants are the furthest thing from our minds when mention is made of "barrel cactus." If you watched Westerns as a kid, you probably recall seeing a thirsty cowboy slice off the top of a barrel cactus to get at the liquid stored inside. It's not just fiction: some species of Echinocactus barrel cacti do contain a reasonably palatable fluid (or so I am told) that is potable in an emergency.


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  • 14 of 14

    Picture of Saguaro Cactus

    Saguaro cactus picture. An imposing plant, saguaro cactus is an icon of the American West.
    Iconic Cactus Plant Saguaro cactus picture. David Beaulieu

    An imposing plant, the saguaro cactus is an enduring symbol of the American West.


    I snapped this photo of a saguaro cactus while surveying the Route 66 landscape.