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A collection of tropical and subtropical succulents reflecting morphological, systematic, and geographical diversity.

Succulents are plants with juisy, unusually thickened, fleshy leaves and stems that are capable of storing water in their altered vegetative organs. Otherwise known as juisy xerophytes.

Succulents are differ in appearance and lifestyle from other plants:

- leaves are very small, absent or cylindrical and spherical;

- plants are compact, with an energy-saving shape: cylindrical, spherical, cushion;

- some species have knit stems, which allows most of the stem to be in shade and allows the plant to increase its volume rapidly in the wet season; 

- leaves and stems are covered by a waterproof cuticle;

- the surface hairs and spines provide shade and create a thermal insulation layer around the plant;

- long roots root at the surface of the ground, collecting even the smallest dew drops.

Most succulents grow in dry steppes, deserts and semi-deserts. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Their ability to capture and store water, due to high temperatures and low rainfall, enables them to withstand long dry spells lasting several months. Succulents are also found on the shores of seas and lakes, where the substrate is saturated with mineral salts, and in humid tropical forests, where they grow as epiphytes on tree branches without reaching the ground.

Succulent species are found among 60 plant families. The same growing conditions make them very similar, even though they are unrelated and grow in far-flung areas (convergence phenomenon). Many species of succulents are cultivated as houseplants. They are among the most undemanding and least maintenance-intensive flowers.   

Succulents are loved by plant collectors for their expressive forms. Large collections are held in botanical gardens around the world.

Historical sources show that the VU Botanical Garden has been home to succulents at all stages of the Garden's complex history: in 1799, the genus Echinopsis was mentioned, and in 1810 there were about 50 taxa of Aloe spp., Crassula spp. and other succulents. Plant lists from the 1840s list 8 species of Aloe spp., 5 species of Agave spp., 9 species of Crassula spp. and 16 other genera of succulents.  The Vingis greenhouses had about 50 taxa of succulents in 1929 and 93 taxa of succulents belonging to 42 genera in 1953. 

From 2020, the Garden aims to assemble a collection representing the geographical and systematic diversity of succulents. It will also introduce visitors to the ornamental qualities of these plants and to succulents that can become part of the interior.


Aloe spp.

There are about 600 species Aloe spp. in Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Madagascar, and the Canary Islands. Most are invertebrates, but some have stems as long as 3–5 metres. The leaves are succulent, jelly-like and form scattered leaves. 



Haworthia cooperi Baker

Grows in small, dense groups, mainly in South Africa. The short stem is hidden 2– 3 centimeters underground. It grows into a compact rosette of plump, succulent leaves, 2–4 cm long and 6 mm thick, with clear tips visible above ground level. Only through these pools of transparent cells does light enter the plant. In spring it produces a panicle of small whitish flowers about 30 cm high. 



Cacti are native to the American continent, the area between 56°N and 54°S. They have a spherical or cylindrical stem and leaves with spines which, together with the bristles, form areoles.



Leafy succulents

Most of the plant species in the following genera are leafy succulents: Echeveria spp., Aeonium spp., Aichryson spp., Sedum spp., Sansevieria spp.