Ah, succulents. Even the name sounds refreshing.

Project Bulbasaur Botany: Succulents

The term "succulent" is truly a catch-all descriptor for many genera and species of plants. It is a broad term of art, not science. However, it is also commonly used (and even intuitively understood) so, for the sake of convenience and brevity, I will apply this term generally.

There are some common characteristics among many (but certainly not all) of what one may typically consider a succulent plant:

1) They are specially adapted to arid climates and soils. For example, some succulents have plump stems and leaves because the tissues of the plant prioritize the storage of water. In addition, some succulents have shallow but extensive roots, which branch out laterally, to aid in the absorption of even small amounts of water. Think cacti.

2) They have thick cuticles. The cuticle is the extracellular "protective layer" that covers the above-ground "skin" of a plant. The cuticle often feels waxy, and it serves to protect the plant and reduce its loss of water. Think aloes.

3) They have small leaves. Not surprisingly, small leaves further limit the loss of water.

There are also fascinating photosynthetic processes among certain succulents, most notably "crassulacean acid metabolism" ("CAM") or "nighttime stomatal opening." I won't be bothered to go into a detailed explanation on CAM because it's complex and you can read all about it on your own but, very simply put, it involves the nocturnal uptake of carbon dioxide among other things.

Succulents are extraordinary popular as house plants. In our home, we have dozens (because my wife absolutely loves them). They are relatively easy to grow and keep alive. But most importantly, I believe, people love them because they look strange and amazing.

So, without further ado, let's get on with the good stuff:

Project Bulbasaur Botany: Succulents

What you see Bulbasaur enjoying here is Senecio rowleyanus, otherwise known as "string of pearls." It is native to the southwestern region of Africa, such as Cape Province.

Project Bulbasaur Botany: Succulents

This is a Cotyledon tomentosa ssp. ladismithiensis, commonly known as "bear's paws." It is native to a very particular region of South Africa (near Ladismith and Laingsburg) and quite rare in the wild. However, it is heavily cultivated for gardening.

And finally, do you recognize me from last time?

Project Bulbasaur Botany: Succulents

This is an Echeveria harmsii, commonly known as the "plush plant." It can be found naturally in high altitude regions of Mexico, along with many other species of echeveria.

Well, that's all for today. If you're interested in seeing more of Bulbasaur and his adventures in the world of plant life, feel free to check out his Instagram profile @bulbasaurbotany.

Thanks for reading!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a botanist by training, only an amateur.


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