Where Do Succulents Come From?

by Lynn KirkOct 5, 2021

where do succulents come from?


The roots of succulent plants may be shallow, but the roots of their origins run deep. Perhaps you think it doesn’t matter where succulents come from? Please think again. Knowing a plant’s native habitat helps you understand its needs, its characteristics, and even its form. So let’s discover the origin of your favorite succulents as Succulent Market takes you on a global tour that eventually leads back home. Today’s succulents are found growing on every continent but Antarctica, but let’s start with Africa.

AFRICA. We’ll cross the Atlantic Ocean to discover where the majority of the world’s succulents originated. The continent of Africa is the original home to a whopping 40% of all native succulents! Many of these plants’ origins can be further traced to the remote island of Madagascar, situated in the Indian Ocean off Africa’s eastern coast. It’s believed that the remoteness of this island literally protected its succulent plants from being stomped, tromped, and chomped on by native wildlife and early man. Madagascar’s centuries of isolation, along with a broad diversity of terrain and climate, also enabled the succulents to evolve in ways quite different from those in the rest of the world and mainland Africa. Not surprisingly, about a fourth of all South Africa’s plants are classified as succulents.

Good to know: So which of your favorites hail from Africa? Jade, zebra, Madagascar palm, agave, mother of thousands, yucca, and kalanchoe — just to name a few.

TROPICS. Conversely, a few succulent plant species were derived from the world’s steamy jungles and vegetative-chocked tropics. Consistent high humidity and continual rainfall in these tropical climates are really the opposite of what most succulents need — except for those classified as tropical succulents. This family of plants includes the ever-popular “holiday” species that include the Thanksgiving cactus, Christmas cactus, and Easter cactus. By the way, they’re named for the season closest to when they typically bloom.

Good to know: Naturally, these species require different watering practices than other standard succulents, for a tropical plant would require more moisture than a desert plant.

AMERICAS: The cactus, which is one type of succulent, originated in South America--such as Mexico’s prickly pear cactus--and across southwestern regions in North America--including peyote and barrel cacti. These cacti continue to grow well in desert regions of the U.S. So does the family of the saguaro cactus that grows exclusively in the Sonoran Desert, which runs from southern Arizona into western Sonora, Mexico.

NATURAL DISPERSAL. So how did succulent plants get from these faraway places to your nearby spaces? Centuries ago, some were carried home by explorers and scientists who were amazed by the distinctive species they found. They planted the cuttings and started their own collections for examination and enjoyment. Other succulent plants might have been dispersed across the world by birds and wildlife, or perhaps their seeds hitchhiked on the cargo of ships and clothes of travelers.

TODAY’S DOMESTIC OPTIONS. Though most succulents originated in faraway places, there’s no need to import them today. In fact, it’s best not to import succulent plants because of the extended shipping, the unknown quality, and the threat of exploitation of rare plants protected by international law. Besides, succulents raised in the U.S. are better acclimated to our climate and better examined for disease and pests prior to shipping.

Succulent Market feeds the need for succulents grown here at home. Every one of their cacti and succulent plants is domestically grown, meaning it was propagated and nurtured on site here in the U.S. The location of Succulent Market’s greenhouses and cactus farms is San Diego, California, which corelates to many succulents’ primary growing needs. Better yet, buying from Succulent Market supports the domestic job market, grows the need for materials and supplies, and fosters the American economy overall.

So where do succulents come from? Originally, they were native to most all parts of the world. However, today you don’t have to travel the globe to get the ones you want. With the click of a mouse, they’re shipped that day: home grown and farm fresh! Schedule your next delivery (or gift!) by visiting www.SucclentMarket.com.