Plant lovers, like yourself, often ask “where are succulents found in nature?”.
Succulent plants, renowned for their water-storing capabilities and distinctive appearances, flourish in diverse natural habitats worldwide.
From arid deserts to mountainous landscapes, these extraordinary plants have adapted to some of the planet’s harshest conditions.
To continue our series on succulents, we’re sharing about where succulents are found in nature. Additionally, we will cover some of the popular species in each location.
Succulent plants, renowned for their striking appearances and exceptional water-storing capabilities, have evolved to flourish in some of the world’s most demanding environments.
From the iconic Aloe vera of South Africa to the charming Jade plants, these hardy beauties have found their niche in a diverse range of natural habitats.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into where succulents grow naturally, with an emphasis on the remarkable adaptations and additional succulent types that thrive in each location.
South Africa Succulents
Southern Africa is known for its incredible diversity of succulent plants due to its wide range of climates and habitats, from arid deserts to coastal regions.
Here are some notable South African succulents that thrive on high temperatures:
1. Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis Miller)
Aloe vera is one of the most famous succulents globally, prized for its soothing gel and medicinal properties. It thrives in the arid regions of South Africa.
2. Quiver Tree (Aloe dichotoma)
Also known as the Kokerboom, this tree-like succulent has a distinctive trunk and is named for its traditional use in crafting quivers for arrows.
3. Bushman’s Candle (Sarcocaulon spp.)
These succulents are characterized by their unusual swollen stems and are often called “Bushman’s Candle” due to their hollow stems, which were historically used for torches.
4. Crassula Ovata (Jade Plant)
This popular houseplant is native to South Africa and features fleshy, oval-shaped leaves. It is considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
5. Mesembs (Ice Plants)
South Africa is home to various species of Mesembs, which are known for their glistening, water-filled cells that resemble ice crystals.
6. Haworthia Species
Numerous Haworthia species, including Haworthia attenuata and Haworthia cooperi, are native to South Africa. They are characterized by their rosette-like growth.
7. Lithops (Living Stones)
These mimicry succulents are named for their stone-like appearance and blend seamlessly into their rocky surroundings.
8. Euphorbia Species
South Africa hosts a diverse array of Euphorbia species, such as Euphorbia ingens and Euphorbia milii, each with its unique characteristics.
9. Senecio Species
South Africa is home to several Senecio species, including Senecio rowleyanus (String of Pearls) and Senecio mandraliscae (Blue Chalksticks).
10. Conophytum Species
These small, rock-dwelling succulents are part of the Mesembryanthemum family and are known for their compact, button-like appearance.
11. Gasteria Species
Gasterias are native to South Africa and are recognized for their distinctive tongue-like leaves.
12. Crassula Argentea (Money Plant)
Also called the “Money Plant” or “Jade Plant,” this succulent is known for its rounded, coin-shaped leaves.
South Africa’s diverse succulent flora attracts plant enthusiasts from around the world. In fact, many of these species have become popular houseplants or garden additions in various parts of the globe.
The country’s unique climate and landscapes have contributed to the evolution of these fascinating succulents.
Southwestern Africa Succulents
Southwestern Africa, particularly the arid regions of Namibia and South Africa, is home to a diverse range of native succulent species.
These succulents have adapted to thrive in the challenging conditions of low rainfall and intense sunlight.
Here are some succulents that grow naturally in southwestern Africa:
1. Aloe species
Several Aloe species are native to southwestern Africa. Aloe vera, known for its medicinal properties, is one of the most well-known. Other species like Aloe dichotoma (Quiver Tree) and Aloe ferox are also found in this region.
2. Euphorbia species
The diverse Euphorbia genus includes many succulent species native to southwestern Africa. Euphorbia obesa, Euphorbia milii (Crown of Thorns), and Euphorbia tirucalli (Pencil Cactus) are some examples.
3. Haworthia species
Haworthias are small, rosette-forming succulents found in southwestern Africa. Haworthia attenuata and Haworthia cooperi are commonly cultivated species.
4. Crassula species
Various Crassula species are native to this region, including Crassula ovata (Jade Plant) and Crassula argentea (Money Plant).
5. Apteryx (Karoo Rose)
This succulent has beautiful rose-like flowers and is native to arid regions of South Africa.
6. Lithops (Living Stones)
Lithops are small, mimicry succulents that blend into their rocky surroundings. They are known for their fascinating stone-like appearance.
7. Sceletium tortuosum (Kanna)
Although not a typical succulent, this succulent herb is native to South Africa and is used for its psychoactive properties.
8. Mesembs (Ice Plants)
The Mesembryanthemum family includes many succulent species, some of which are native to southwestern Africa. These plants are often called “Ice Plants” due to their glistening, water-filled cells.
9. Sansevieria spp. (Snake Plants)
Some Sansevieria species are native to parts of South Africa and Namibia. They are known for their hardiness.
10. Kalanchoe spp.
Several Kalanchoe species are native to southwestern Africa, including Kalanchoe blossfeldiana and Kalanchoe tomentosa (Panda Plant).
These popular succulents are a good choice if you’re looking for drought-tolerant plants. They withstand dry periods, or periods of drought, and can thrive in full sun.
South America Succulents
South America boasts a rich diversity of succulent plants, many of which are native to the continent’s diverse landscapes and climates.
Here are some succulents that grow naturally in South America:
1. Echeveria Species
Echeverias are rosette-forming succulents known for their symmetrical, fleshy leaves. Various Echeveria species are native to different regions of South America.
2. Opuntia Species (Prickly Pear)
Prickly Pear cacti are found throughout South America. They are known for their flat, paddle-like stems and colorful flowers.
3. Echinopsis Pachanoi (San Pedro Cactus)
This tall columnar cactus is native to the Andes Mountains and is known for its psychedelic properties.
4. Peruvian Apple Cactus (Cereus peruvianus)
Native to South America, this cactus produces large, edible fruits and features tall, ribbed stems.
5. Kalanchoe Species
Some Kalanchoe species are native to South America, known for their vibrant, showy flowers.
6. Sedum Species
Various Sedum species, including Sedum acre, can be found in South American regions. They are often used in rock gardens and as ground covers.
7. Sempervivum Species (Hens and Chicks)
These rosette-forming succulents are found in South America, typically in alpine regions with cool temperatures.
8. Echinocactus Grusonii (Golden Barrel Cactus)
While native to Mexico, this iconic barrel cactus can also be found in some parts of northern South America.
9. Tillandsia Species (Air Plants)
Air plants are epiphytic succulents that can be found in various regions of South America, often growing on trees and rocks.
10. Epiphyllum Oxypetalum (Queen of the Night)
This epiphytic succulent produces large, fragrant white flowers and is native to parts of South America.
11. Rhipsalis Species
Rhipsalis are epiphytic succulents known for their trailing stems and are found in tropical regions of South America.
12. Senecio Species
Some Senecio species, including Senecio articulatus (Candle Plant), are native to South America.
13. Sinningia Species (Gloxinia)
Native to Brazil, Sinningia species are known for their attractive tubular flowers.
While not true succulents, many bromeliad species are found in South America. They are known for their striking foliage and vibrant flowers.
South America’s diverse climates and ecosystems, from the Andes Mountains to the Amazon rainforest, provide a range of habitats for succulent species to thrive.
These native succulents contribute to the continent’s rich plant biodiversity and are often admired for their unique forms and adaptations.
North America Succulents
North America is home to a variety of native succulent species, adapted to the continent’s diverse climates and landscapes.
Here are some succulents that grow naturally in North America:
1. Agave Species
Agaves are widespread in North America, with many species native to the southwestern United States and Mexico. Agave americana (Century Plant) and Agave parryi are examples.
2. Yucca Species
Yuccas are native to various regions of North America, with distinctive sword-like leaves and tall flower spikes. Yucca filamentosa (Adam’s Needle) and Yucca brevifolia (Joshua Tree) are well-known examples.
3. Sedum Species
Sedums are versatile succulents found throughout North America, with species like Sedum spurium (Dragon’s Blood Sedum) and Sedum ternatum (Wild Stonecrop).
4. Opuntia Species (Prickly Pear)
Prickly Pear cacti are found across North America, with species like Opuntia humifusa and Opuntia engelmannii.
5. Sempervivum Species (Hens and Chicks)
Hens and Chicks succulents are native to North America, particularly in rocky or alpine environments.
6. Dudleya Species
These rosette-forming succulents are native to western North America, including species like Dudleya farinosa (Bluff Lettuce) and Dudleya brittonii.
7. Echeveria Species
Some Echeveria species are native to North America, particularly in Mexico and the southwestern United States.
8. Aeonium Species
Aeoniums are found in various parts of North America, including Aeonium arboreum (Tree Aeonium) in California.
9. Dasylirion Species
These succulents, known as Sotol or Desert Spoon, are native to the southwestern United States and Mexico.
10. Hesperaloe parviflora (Red Yucca)
This succulent is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico and is known for its tall flower spikes.
11. Cacti Species
Various cacti species are native to North America, including the iconic Saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) found in the Sonoran Desert.
12. Echinocereus Species
Hedgehog cacti, part of the Echinocereus genus, are native to North America and known for their colorful flowers.
13. Euphorbia Species
Some Euphorbia species, such as Euphorbia antisyphilitica (Candelilla), are native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.
14. Sedum lanceolatum (Spearleaf Stonecrop)
This native sedum is found in North America, with lance-shaped leaves and yellow flowers.
These native North American succulents play vital roles in their ecosystems. Amazingly, they have adaptations that allow them to thrive in various climates, from the deserts of the southwest to alpine regions in the north.
They contribute to the continent’s diverse plant life and are appreciated for their unique forms and resilience.
Canary Islands Succulents
The Canary Islands, located off the northwest coast of Africa, are home to a variety of unique and endemic succulent species.
These succulents have adapted to the islands’ volcanic terrain and subtropical climate.
Here are some succulents that grow naturally in the Canary Islands:
1. Aeonium Species
The Canary Islands are known for their diverse Aeonium species, such as Aeonium arboreum (Tree Aeonium) and Aeonium canariense.
2. Euphorbia Species
Several Euphorbia species are native to the Canary Islands, including Euphorbia balsamifera and Euphorbia regis-jubae.
3. Kleinia Neriifolia (Verode)
This tall succulent is endemic to the Canary Islands and is known for its long, slender leaves and yellow flowers.
4. Monanthes Species
Monanthes are small, rosette-forming succulents native to the Canary Islands. They are often found growing in rock crevices.
5. Aichryson Species
Aichryson species, including Aichryson laxum, are native to the Canary Islands and are characterized by their attractive leaves and clusters of small flowers.
6. Echeveria Species
Some Echeveria species have naturalized in the Canary Islands, where they thrive in the island’s mild climate.
7. Senecio kleinia (Cineraria)
This succulent has silvery-gray leaves and is native to the Canary Islands and Madeira.
8. Sempervivum ciliosum
These rosette-forming succulents are native to the Canary Islands and have distinctive, fleshy leaves.
9. Mesembryanthemum crystallinum (Ice Plant)
While not exclusive to the Canary Islands, the Ice Plant is found in coastal areas, known for its glistening, water-filled cells.
10. Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands)
This invasive succulent has naturalized in the Canary Islands, where it produces plantlets along the edges of its leaves.
Many of these succulents are endemic to the Canary Islands, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world.
The unique flora of the islands has attracted plant enthusiasts and researchers interested in studying these remarkable adaptations to the local environment.
Central America Succulents
Central America is home to a diverse range of succulent species, thanks to its varied climates and ecosystems.
Here are some succulents that grow naturally in Central America:
1. Agave Species
Central America is home to various Agave species, including Agave angustifolia and Agave fourcroydes (used for sisal production).
2. Yucca Species
Yuccas, such as Yucca elephantipes (Giant Yucca), are native to parts of Central America, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions.
3. Opuntia Species (Prickly Pear)
Prickly Pear cacti can be found in Central America, known for their flat, paddle-like stems and colorful flowers.
4. Sedum Species
Several Sedum species are native to Central America, including Sedum praealtum and Sedum rubrotinctum (Jelly Bean Plant).
5. Aloe Species
Some Aloe species are native to Central America, such as Aloe vera, which is also found in the Caribbean.
6. Echeveria Species
Certain Echeveria species have naturalized in Central America, particularly in regions with mild climates.
7. Haworthia Species
Haworthias are found in various parts of Central America, often in rocky or hilly areas.
8. Sinningia Species
Some Sinningia species, including Sinningia conspicua, are native to Central America.
9. Sempervivum Species (Hens and Chicks)
Hens and Chicks succulents are found in Central America, often in mountainous regions.
10. Mammillaria Species
These small cacti are native to Central America, with species like Mammillaria geminispina and Mammillaria prolifera.
11. Euphorbia Species
Various Euphorbia species are found in Central America, including Euphorbia antiquorum.
12. Crassula Species
Some Crassula species have naturalized in Central America, particularly in regions with suitable climates.
13. Tillandsia Species (Air Plants)
Air plants are epiphytic succulents that can be found in Central American rainforests, often growing on trees.
14. Rhipsalis Species
Rhipsalis, known for their trailing stems, are found in tropical regions of Central America.
15. Kalanchoe Species
Certain Kalanchoe species are native to Central America, including Kalanchoe pinnata.
These succulents have adapted to the various climates and habitats of Central America, from arid deserts to lush rainforests.
They contribute to the region’s rich plant diversity and are often appreciated for their ornamental value.
Arabian Peninsula Succulents
The Arabian Peninsula is known for its arid and desert landscapes, and several succulent species have adapted to thrive in these challenging conditions.
Here are some succulents that grow naturally in the Arabian Peninsula:
The Arabian Peninsula is home to various Euphorbia species, including Euphorbia officinarum and Euphorbia tirucalli (Pencil Cactus).
Several Aloe species are native to the Arabian Peninsula, including Aloe vera, Aloe succotrina, and Aloe abyssinica.
Some Agave species, such as Agave arabica, are found in arid regions of the Arabian Peninsula.
Certain Sedum species have adapted to the Arabian Peninsula’s desert environment, including Sedum aucheri.
This succulent plant, also known as “Desert Thumb,” is native to the Arabian Peninsula and has thick, fleshy stems.
Echidnopsis succulents, such as Echidnopsis cereiformis, are found in the region’s rocky desert habitats.
Apteryx Species (Karoo Rose)
This type of plant, with beautiful rose-like flowers, thrives in the arid conditions of the Arabian Peninsula.
Some Caralluma species, like Caralluma russeliana, are native to the region and are known for their distinctive star-shaped flowers.
Orbea succulents, such as Orbea variegata, can be found in the Arabian Peninsula’s arid landscapes.
This succulent, known as “Desert Hot Floor,” is native to the Arabian Peninsula and features fleshy leaves.
These different types of succulents have evolved unique adaptations to conserve water and thrive in the extreme heat and low rainfall of the Arabian Peninsula’s deserts.
They are essential components of the region’s ecosystems and contribute to its overall biodiversity.
Central Africa Succulents
Central Africa is not typically known for its succulent flora compared to regions with arid or semi-arid climates. However, there are some succulent species that can be found in specific habitats within Central African countries.
These succulents often grow in rocky or dry regions, where they have adapted to the local environmental conditions. Here are a few examples:
Sansevieria spp (Snake Plant)
The common name for this is “snake plant”. Some Sansevieria species are native to Central Africa, where they can be found in various habitats, including savannas and woodlands.
Certain Euphorbia species are found in Central Africa, especially in dry or semi-arid regions.
Some Kalanchoe species may be present in Central Africa, particularly in rocky areas.
A few Aloe species, such as Aloe vera, might be found in specific regions of Central Africa with suitable conditions.
Senecio plants, like Senecio biafrae, are among the succulents that may be encountered in parts of Central Africa.
It’s important to note that Central Africa is characterized by a tropical rainforest climate in many areas, which is not conducive to typical succulent growth due to the high rainfall and humidity.
Succulents in this region are more likely to be found in transitional zones or drier microhabitats within the rainforest where conditions are somewhat arid.
The succulent diversity in Central Africa may not be as extensive as in arid regions, but these plants still play vital roles in their ecosystems and contribute to the region’s overall plant diversity.
Succulents in High Mountains: Extreme Elevations
Succulents that grow in high mountain regions often have unique adaptations to withstand cold temperatures, direct sunlight, harsh weather, and high-altitude conditions.
Here are some examples of succulents that can be found in high mountain areas around the world:
Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks)
Several Sempervivum species thrive in alpine environments. These rosette-forming succulents are known for their hardiness and ability to tolerate freezing temperatures.
Jovibarba spp. (Rolling Hen and Chicks)
Similar to Sempervivum, Jovibarba species are found in alpine regions and share the “Hen and Chicks” growth habit.
Rhodiola rosea (Rose Root)
This succulent grows in high mountain areas of Europe, Asia, and North America. It’s known for its adaptogenic properties.
Some Sedum species can be found at high altitudes in rocky, alpine terrain. They often have small, fleshy leaves and are well-suited to cold conditions.
Orostachys spp. (Dunce’s Caps)
Dunce’s Caps are cold-hardy succulents that grow in alpine and subalpine regions, particularly in Asia.
Lewisia spp. (Bitterroots)
Bitterroots are native to North American mountain regions and are prized for their showy flowers.
Saxifraga spp. (Stonecrops)
Certain Saxifraga species are alpine plants that thrive in rocky, high-altitude areas.
Androsace spp. (Rock Jasmine)
These alpine succulents are known for their small, delicate flowers and are native to mountainous regions of Europe and Asia.
Sinningia spp. (Hardy Gloxinia)
Some Sinningia species grow in high-altitude areas of South America, often in rocky or grassy habitats.
A few Dudleya species are found in high mountain regions of North America, particularly in the western United States.
Rosularia plants are alpine succulents found in mountainous areas of Europe and Asia. They form attractive rosettes.
While not exclusive to high mountains, some Echeveria species can adapt to cooler alpine conditions and are cultivated in rock gardens at high elevations.
These species of succulents have evolved to thrive in the challenging environments of high mountain regions, where they face temperature extremes, high UV radiation, and rocky or gravelly soils.
Their unique adaptations make them well-suited to these elevated habitats and add to the biodiversity of mountain ecosystems.
Desert Environments: Succulents Mastering Arid Conditions
Desert environments are home to a wide variety of succulent plants that have evolved to thrive in arid conditions.
These succulents have specialized adaptations to store water and survive in extremely dry climates.
Here are some examples of succulents that grow naturally in dry conditions throughout desert environments:
Agave spp. (Agaves)
Agaves are iconic desert succulents known for their rosette-forming growth and sharp-tipped leaves. They are native to arid regions of North and South America.
Opuntia spp. (Prickly Pear Cacti)
Prickly Pear cacti are common in North American deserts and are recognized by their flat, paddle-like stems and colorful flowers.
Echinocactus spp. (Barrel Cacti)
Barrel cacti are barrel-shaped succulents native to various North American deserts. They store water in their thick stems.
Ferocactus spp. (Barrel Cacti)
Similar to Echinocactus, Ferocactus species are barrel-shaped cacti found in desert regions.
Certain Aloe species, such as Aloe vera, are native to arid regions of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
Yucca spp. (Yuccas)
Yuccas are desert succulents known for their long, sword-like leaves and tall flower spikes. They are found in North and Central America.
Sedum spp. (Stonecrops)
Some Sedum species grow in desert environments and are characterized by their fleshy leaves.
Euphorbia spp. (Spurges)
Euphorbias are a diverse group of succulent plants found in deserts across the world, known for their unique forms and adaptations.
Cylindropuntia spp. (Cholla Cacti)
Cholla cacti are native to North American deserts and have segmented stems covered in spines.
Sempervivum spp. (Hens and Chicks)
Hens and Chicks succulents are hardy and can be found in rocky desert habitats.
Some Kalanchoe species grow in desert regions, often producing colorful flowers.
Crassula spp. (Jade Plants)
Certain Crassula species are adapted to desert environments and have thick, fleshy leaves.
Ariocarpus spp. (Living Rocks)
Ariocarpus succulents, also known as “Living Rocks,” are native to arid regions in North America.
Lithops spp. (Living Stones)
Lithops are small, mimicry succulents that resemble stones, and they are found in African deserts.
Some Haworthia species grow in desert habitats, known for their rosette-forming growth.
These desert succulents play essential roles in their ecosystems, providing food and shelter for various desert-adapted animals and contributing to the overall biodiversity of arid regions.
Their unique forms and adaptations make them fascinating and resilient plants.
Succulents That Grow Naturally in Cold Climates
High Mountain Regions
Succulents like Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks) and Sedum species are known to grow in high-altitude mountainous areas, including the Alps in Europe and the Rocky Mountains in North America.
These succulents have developed adaptations to withstand cold temperatures and even snowfall.
Some cold deserts, such as the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and parts of the Andes Mountains in South America, are home to cold-hardy succulents.
Agave species and various cacti, like Opuntia (Prickly Pear), can survive in these harsh environments.
In Arctic and alpine tundra regions, you can find succulents like Rhodiola spp. and Saxifraga spp. These succulents have adapted to extreme cold, short growing seasons, and high elevations.
Certain succulents like Sedum acre and Sedum kamtschaticum are native to northern regions, including parts of Siberia and Scandinavia.
These hardy succulents can withstand freezing temperatures and are often used in cold-climate gardening.
In cold regions with rocky outcrops, succulents like Lewisia spp. can be found growing naturally. These plants are adapted to rocky, well-drained soils and can endure cold winters.
In coastal regions with cold, foggy climates, you may find cold-tolerant succulents like Ice Plants (Delosperma spp.). These succulents are often used for erosion control along cold coastlines.
It’s important to note that while some succulents can survive in cold climates, they may require specific care and protection during the winter months. This is especially true if temperatures drop significantly below freezing.
When asking “where are succulents found in nature?”, it’s clear they are in many regions!
In these regions, gardeners often use various techniques to protect their cold-hardy succulents, such as providing mulch or temporary coverings to shield them from extreme cold and moisture.
Conclusion: Where are succulents found in nature
Succulents, with their diverse origins and remarkable adaptations, stand as a testament to nature’s ingenuity.
Their capacity to store water efficiently, endure extended dry spells, and thrive in extreme climates not only positions them as survivors but also as captivating subjects of admiration.
Whether they grace the arid deserts, lush tropical forests, rocky cliffs, or mountain peaks, succulents unfailingly enthrall with their distinctive appearances and unyielding resilience.
Succulents, with their diverse origins and remarkable adaptations to harsh conditions, offer a testament to nature’s ingenuity.
Their ability to store water, endure dry spells, and thrive in extreme climates makes them not only survivors but also objects of fascination and admiration.
Whether you encounter them in a desert, a lush tropical forest, or a rocky outcrop, succulents never fail to captivate with their unique appearance and resilience.
We hope we’ve answered your question, “where are succulents found in nature? with more than enough information.
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