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In botany, succulent plants, also known as succulents, are plants with parts that are thickened, fleshy and engorged, usually to retain water in arid climates or soil conditions. The word "succulent" comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning juice, or sap.Succulent plants may store water in various structures, such as leaves and stems. Some definitions also include roots, thus geophytes that survive unfavorable periods by dying back to underground storage organs may be regarded as succulents. In horticultural use, the term "succulent" is sometimes used in a way which excludes plants that botanists would regard as succulents, such as cacti. Succulents are often grown as ornamental plants because of their striking and unusual appearance, as well as their ability to thrive with relatively minimal care.

Many plant families have multiple succulents found within them (over 25 plant families).In some families, such as Aizoaceae, Cactaceae, and Crassulaceae, most species are succulents. The habitats of these water preserving plants are often in areas with high temperatures and low rainfall, such as deserts. Succulents have the ability to thrive on limited water sources, such as mist and dew, which makes them equipped to survive in an ecosystem which contains scarce water sources.

The storage of water often gives succulent plants a more swollen or fleshy appearance than other plants, a characteristic known as succulence. In addition to succulence, succulent plants variously have other water-saving features. These may include:

Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) to minimize water loss

absent, reduced, or cylindrical-to-spherical leaves

reduction in the number of stomata

stems as the main site of photosynthesis, rather than leaves

compact, reduced, cushion-like, columnar, or spherical growth form

ribs enabling rapid increases in plant volume and decreasing surface area exposed to the sun

waxy, hairy, or spiny outer surface to create a humid micro-habitat around the plant, which reduces air movement near the surface of the plant, and thereby reduces water loss and creates shade

roots very near the surface of the soil, so they are able to take up moisture from very small showers or even from heavy dew

ability to remain plump and full of water even with high internal temperatures (e.g., 52 °C or 126 °F)

very impervious outer cuticle (skin)

mucilaginous substances, which retain water abundantly

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