How to identify your succulent plant

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With thousands of magnificent succulent hybrid species that have been scientifically named and probably tens of thousands of succulent varieties still yet to be named, identifying the less common succulent types correctly can be very challenging. Different conditions such as sunlight, water, and location all make succulent identification difficult. Although it can be a little easier to guess the genus of the succulent, identifying the species or cultivar name can be tricky.

This article will provide some tips to help you identify your succulents by their characteristics and growth habits. If you don’t already own the succulent, a good photo ID or strong observation of the individual physical characteristics can help you start identifying your succulent. 

Identify Succulents by Leaf Shape

Succulent varieties come in all shapes and sizes. A good starting point for identifying your succulent is to have a look at the leaf shape – What are the leaves like? Are they soft and fleshy? What shape are the leaves – are the leaf edges toothed, scalloped, smooth?

Succulent leaf characteristic Possible succulent varieties
Spiky/ toothed Agave, Aloe Vera
Flat leafed Aeonium, Crassula, Kalanchoe
Triangle shaped Haworthia
Jelly bean shaped/ spherical Senecio, Sedum, Pachyphytum Overifum (Moonstones)
Reproductive leaves/ scalloped Kalanchoe
Rosette shape Echeveria, Graptopetalum, Aeonium

 

Pictured left to right:

  1. Sedum rubrotinctum
  2. Echeveria ‘Satine’
  3. Aeonium Zwartkop
  4. Kalanchoe Marmorata

Identify Succulents by Flower Colour and Shape

Another way to identify your succulent is by the colours and shapes of the flowers they produce in bloom season. Some succulents feature distinctive flowers that can help with quick identification. For example, Kalanchoes produce bell shaped, reddish flowers that droop down from long thin green stalks. Pay attention to:

  • Does your succulent have long flower stalks?
  • What time of the year does your succulent start blooming?
  • Shape of the flowers: are they small? star-shaped flowers?
  • Colours: succulent flowers often range in colour from vibrant pink, orange, red, yellow to white.

Pictured left to right:

  1. Echeveria purpusorum
  2. Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi ‘Lavender Scallops’
  3. Cotyledon Tormentosa ‘Bear Paws’
  4. Sedum Clavatum
Related resource: 5 of the Best Spring-Flowering Blooming Succulents

Identify Succulents by Growth Habits

The form, or growth habits of different succulent species can help you narrow your search.

Succulent growth habit Possible succulent varieties
Rosette forming succulents Echeveria, Graptopetalum, Aeonium
Succulents with stacked leaves Crassula
Ground covering succulents Sedum, Senecio
Trailing succulents Donkey “Burros” Tail, String of Pearls

 

Once you’ve got a list of the key characteristics you can then start your Google search, or search on Pinterest. There are often very active Facebook groups and communities for Succulent lovers, so you can also post there and no doubt there will be someone that can help you identify your succulent plant.

 

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