Succulents and Suckage

Monday, 11 June 2012
I've become slightly obsessed with succulents otherwise known as fat plants. This plant family grows in tropical or dry climates and has leaves that store water. While I was in Phoenix last month, I attempted to educate myself on the foliage there and I would love to grow varieties of cacti at my home in East Tennessee.

The species pictured here are from the grounds of Montelucia Resort in the Scottsdale area of Arizona.

My bizarre interest in succulents developed years ago. Being quite the botanist, my grandmother always had a few Aloe plants on hand and my brother and I would almost try to garner a cut or scrape so we could break off a bright green leaf and smear cool goo onto our injury.

Now here's where things get really funky: cacti are succulents but not all succulents are necessarily cacti. Interesting. Here's something else you might find to be pretty cool (I did)... a cactus stores as much water as possible in its core and roots so that the leaves evolve to "spines" or "prickles" which are the spiky parts. 

My favorite cacti variety on the resort grounds included the relatively vibrant Purple Prickly Pear cactus. 

Another bonus for this type of plant? Protection. 

Information from Wikipedia: Plants bearing thorns, spines or prickles are often used as a defense against burglary, being strategically planted below windows or around the perimeter of a property. They have also been used to protect crops and livestock against animals. 

Perhaps I should carefully consider the above uses. Using cacti for security would be a lot more green than installing a full-blown system. Clearly, succulents do not suck.

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