No, Aloe vera is not a cactus, but they are both succulents. That means that they both have the ability to absorb and retain water in their bodies which they can use to keep themselves alive in the event of drought. Their leaves and stems are thick and fleshy, with skins that keep the intense sunlight of their natural habitat from drying them out too fast.
Cacti belong to the Cactaceae family, while Aloe vera belongs to the Asphodelaceae family. It should be noted that, while Aloe vera is the most commonly-known species, there are actually more than 500 members of the Aloe genus.
In this article, we will learn more about the differences between these two plants, as well as their similarities. So, if you want to learn more about these fascinating plants, just keep reading.
Is Aloe vera a cactus?
No, but cacti and Aloe vera (and all other aloe species) – are both succulents. Succulents are characterized as drought-resistant plants whose leaves, stems and roots are fleshier than those of regular plants, and which have developed tissues in these plant parts that are able to store water.
Basically, all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. One such non-cactus succulent is the Aloe vera, a member of the Aloe genus that comprises hundreds of aloe species.
Most succulents are native to the world’s most arid regions, and they have evolved through the years to survive and thrive in these conditions. These places have little to no rainfall for most of the year, yet these plants are somehow able to continue living there regardless.
Succulents are also able to absorb water faster than most plants so that when the rain does come, they can maximize the volume they absorb for storage. They do this by growing short, temporary roots almost immediately upon sensing rain or water from any other source in the soil around them. These shallow, temporary roots channel lots of water into the stem and leaf tissues of the plant, effectively replenishing their water reserves.
What are the differences between Aloe vera and a cactus?
Aloes belong to the Asphodelaceae family, while cacti belong to the Cactaceae family, but the presence of spikes on both plants could be somewhat misleading when viewed from a distance.
Cacti are definitely not the only plants that have spikes. However, while nobody would confuse a rose for a cactus, the same is not always true for aloes, because their succulent foliage along with their thorns could easily confuse a novice plant collector.
When it comes to visually distinguishing cacti from other spiky succulents, such as aloes, there are a few differences that can be observed.
Cacti can be told apart from other succulents by the rounded bumps that run the length of their stems. These are called areoles, which are modified buds. These areoles are a distinctive feature of cacti and are responsible for the formation of these plants’ well-known spines.
Cacti are also characterized by having few to no leaves because their spines are actually modified leaves. This is not true of Aloe vera, which has numerous leaves. Despite the fact that they do not look at all like traditional leaves, there are plenty of them, growing in a rosette formation. They are succulent and fleshy, and their edges are lined with thorns. These thorns are generally smaller than the spines on a cactus, although that depends on the species of cactus.
Is Aloe vera a succulent?
Yes, Aloe vera is a succulent, along with approximately 350 other classified aloe species. It can grow up to 20 inches tall at full maturity.
They are indigenous to the Canary Islands, the Azores, Africa, and Madagascar, among other places.
This plant has been known for its numerous therapeutic properties since approximately 2200 BC, and has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine.
The plant’s bright yellow flowers grow from stems that reach up to 40 inches high, appearing in the springtime. Once they have been pollinated, the fruits begin to mature, containing winged seeds that will measure approximately half an inch long when mature.
Aloin, essential amino acids, sugars and enzymes are all found in abundance in this plant, which makes it a powerful medicinal tool. In addition, vitamins, minerals, and a plethora of trace elements and other substances are present, though the amounts differ between species.
Aloe vera care
Aloes can be found in a variety of places, including garden centers, floral shops, and even online. They are usually fairly simple to grow as long as they are provided with sufficient sunlight and warmth.
Aloes require approximately six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive. Younger plants require less direct sunlight than older ones. These plants are typically grown in hotter climates, but they can be kept indoors during the colder months.
Water your aloe when the top two inches of soil are dry around it. You can tell how dry the soil is by pressing your finger into it.
Even if you live in a hot climate, you may only need to water your aloe once a week, or possibly less frequently. Overwatering can cause the tips of its leaves to turn brown, so always err on the side of caution to avoid this.
Make sure that the bottom of your aloe’s pot has drainage holes, so that any excess water can easily drain out, and always keep a close eye on the plant’s general health so that you spot any problems as soon as they arise to address them promptly.
No, Aloe vera is not a cactus. It belongs to the Asphodelaceae family, while cacti belong to the Cactaceae family. However, both aloes and cacti are succulents.
They share the characteristic of all succulents, in that they have fleshy roots, stems and leaves that can absorb and retain water. The water stored in their bodies can be used during extended periods of drought, making them able to survive extremely hot, dry regions where other plants would perish.
The main visible difference between aloes and cacti is that instead of leaves, cacti have areoles, from which their spines grow.
Image: istockphoto.com / Thaisign