Did you know that cacti are actually a type of succulent?
So you can call a cactus a succulent but you can't call all succulents cacti.
Confusing? Let's clear that up.
Succulents are plants that store water in their stems, roots, and leaves. There are about 60 different plant families within the group of succulents, including aloe, haworthia, sedum, sempervivum, and of course, cacti.
Cacti are fleshy plants that store water, making them part of this group. Therefore, all cacti are succulents.
Cacti are simply a family, or sub-category within the group of plants collectively known as succulents. They range from tall and thin to short and round, and they usually do not have leaves or branches.
In order for a succulent plant to be considered a cactus, the plant must have areoles. Areoles are small, round, cushion-like mounds of flesh where spines, hair, leaves, flowers, and more grow from the cactus. Areoles are only present on cacti, not all succulents.
Some succulents are often mistaken for cacti because they have thorns or spines, but these characteristics do not automatically qualify a succulent as a cactus. The areoles are the key to distinguishing the two. Without areoles, the succulent cannot be a cactus.