SUCCULENT plants, other than cacti, form a very large group. They are contained in about 30 plant families, 8 of which consist entirely of succulents, whilst in the others only a few succulents are found. The more important of the families to which the succulent plants belong are: Agavaceae, Liliaceae, Aizoaceae-Ficoideae, Asclepiadaceae, Crassulaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Compositae, Bromeliaceae, and Portu-lacaceae.

AGAVE. This genus contains over 300 species, which are native to America. They consist of shrubs or low bushes, having rosettes of elongated leaves possessing remarkable toughness. The margins of the leaves are toothed and usually have a strong spine at the tip. The leaves are greenish or bluish-green, often with a coloured margin. They are very attractive plants, but many are unsuitable for indoor cultivation, for they grow to large proportions. However, some of the smaller species make very good pot plants. Most make many offsets which usually root while still attached to the parent plant. These can be pulled off and propagated. In summer they prefer a very sunny position and grow well in a rich compost.

Agave Victoriae-Reginae. A very beautiful species, slow-growing. The leaves are numerous, 4 to 6 inches long, and about 2 inches broad. They are stiff and curved inwards; dull dark green, marked with oblique white lines. The terminal spines are long, and there may be 2 short spines near.

Agave Fernandi-Regis. Very similar to A. Victoriae-Reginae, with the upper side of leaves deeply concave and sharply keeled; the leaves are formed in rosettes without a stem. The inflorescence grows to quite a height. Flowers yellowish-green.

Agave felifera. The leaves form rosettes and are numerous and somewhat curved upwards; they are a shiny green with two or three white lines and a pale horny band, which becomes detached in thin filaments or threads. A straight spine forms the extreme tip of the leaf. This species is slow-growing and beautiful.

Agave stricta. This species forms spherical rosettes with the leaves very close. They are stiff and erect and slightly curved inwards; green, striped with pale grey, 14 inches in length. A very handsome species.

Agave americana. One of the larger Agaves, sometimes popularly called the “century plant”. It derives its name from the supposition that it blooms but once in a century, but under favourable pot conditions this species has been made to flower in something like 20 years. To accomplish this an abundance of plant food and water must be given during the growing season. Small plants are attractive and can be grown all winter in the living-room, and, when the warm weather comes, can be placed out-of-doors. A large specimen will have 40 to 50 fleshy leaves arranged in a rosette, each leaf about 3 feet long and 3 inches broad, gradually tapermg to a point tipped with a very sharp spine; the edges also have a few short spines. The leaves are a light glaucous green, but there are several varieties, some having a more or less broad yellow stripe down through the centre of the leaf, whilst in others the leaves are edged with yellow. Other species to be recommended are: A. Tre-leasei, A. Toumeyana, A. parviflora, A. Schotti, A. geminiflora.


Although this family contains mostly bulbous plants, succulents are found in the following important genera: Haworthia, Aloe, Astroloba, Bowiea, and Gasteria.

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