Are Succulents Cacti?

by Succulent Market ADMINSep 14, 2020

To put it simply, every cactus is a succulent but every succulent is not a cactus. To understand this, we will have to dive into botany basics.

The differences between a cactus and a succulent might not be as stark as you think. They could look a lot different than each other considering succulents are found in many different plant families so there's a good chance they would look the complete opposite of a cactus. But that aside, there's a good chance that there are a lot of similarities too since both thrive in humid, dry climates and can make do with less water than other plants. Let's talk about what these plants are, and their differences.

What’s a succulent?

Succulents are not a family of plants, but they are available in around 60 different families of plants. Cacti is one of those families that have succulents. Hence, this makes all cacti as succulents but not all succulents as cacti. They are basically a subcategory of succulents.

To make it clearer, succulents are plants that are described as water-storing ones. They have thick leaves and swollen stems that can store water that they can use later. They are easy to take care of and really nice to keep indoors.

What’s a cactus?

Cacti are also fleshy plants with stems that store water in them. Hence, they are a part of the group of plants called succulents. As we already said, all cacti are succulents.

Cacti are a family of plants. They are also one of the subcategories of the group of plants known as succulents. They share the traits of succulents with most properties associated with how easy it is to take care of them. Cacti come in all sizes. From tall and thin to short and round. They might or might not have any leaves or branches. You can classify or identify a plant like a cactus if the plant has areoles.

Have you ever seen those mounds of flesh where everything from spines to hair grows on any cactus? They are areoles. They are small and round. You will only find them on cacti so it's easy to identify these.

What are the differences?

Despite sharing the same group (succulents) of plants, there are some notable differences between cacti and other succulents. They share a lot of similarities but right now we will discuss how they differ.


  • Succulents usually have leaves but cacti plants usually have no leaves.
  • The most distinguishable feature that cacti have is the areoles that are different and unique from all other succulents. These are modified buds that are the areas where everything takes birth in cactus.
  • There are a ton of specific succulents that are native to different places spread across the world while you can not say the same for cactus.
  • Succulents can grow as tall as 50 ft in some varieties but cacti cannot.
  • Cacti are inedible while there are some types of succulents that you can eat in various salads such as purslane and then there's the juice from the aloe Vera plant.

Both cacti and succulents are great plants that you can keep indoors or outdoors, according to your desires. They make for excellent indoor companions as they purify the air, freshen the atmosphere, require minimal care, and can thrive in a dry climate without any issues. It's almost like you cannot go wrong with these plants.

That being said, there are a few differences as we discussed above and that’s not to take anything away from either of the plants as the differences are minimal and, in most cases, unsubstantial. Both are excellent houseplants that you can keep for various purposes.