Succulents may be described as plants which are adapted to store water in their leaves, branches or stem bases in order to be able to survive long periods without water. These succulent storage organs led to their descriptive name in Afrikaans: vetplant (fat plant). As can be expected, most succulents are found in arid parts of the world, although some are also adapted to grow in areas with a high rainfall.
Southern Africa is one of the most succulent rich areas in the world. Of the world's approximately 10,000 succulent species, nearly half originate from Southern Africa. World-wide there is a tremendous active interest in the succulents of the region.
There are a number of reasons for the interest succulents enjoy among plant- and nature lovers, gardeners and botanists. The ability to survive in the most hostile environment, the fascinating growth forms and spectacular flowers which occur amongst these plants, the fact that the plants can be propagated fairly easily and can in the most instances grow happily for weeks and even months almost care free, all lead to the special interest succulents enjoy. Succulents promote water-wise gardening, and the ability to grow in pots in small gardens, and even on a balcony.
Gardening in general is a wonderful stress reliever, particularly during lockdown or when work is tense and you need an outlet to let off some steam.
While many orchids have a storage system and bulbs also, but these are generally not treated as succulents.
From the viewpoint of conservation there is also enough reason to devote special attention to succulents. A delicate balance exists in the habitat of most of these plants. A slight disturbance of this balance may seriously endanger their survival. Many succulents are also endangered because they are much sought after collectors' items, which leads to the illegal removal of plants from the veld.