The Cactus Patch
Volume 4       August 2001      Number 8

California Succulents
by L. Maynard Moe
Photos by Stephen Cooley

Collecting succulent and caudiciform plants is a popular hobby. The term "succulent" loosely refers to those plants that have fleshy roots, stems or leaves that store water for use during dry periods when no water is available to the roots. A caudiciform succulent is a plant with stem and root fused into a swollen water-storage organ called a caudex. Except for cacti, some other succulents and a few caudiciforms, succulents are mostly plants of Africa and Madagascar. However, there are some succulents and caudiciform plant species native to California.

This is a preliminary listing of succulent or caudiciform native plant species in California. To be included in the list, the plant must have conspicuously succulent leaves or stems or a well developed caudex and live in habitats with prolonged dry periods. Those plants with fleshy leaves (such as some Claytonia, Montia, Dithyrea and others) are not included because they mostly have flat leaves. Plants such as Allotropa, Sarcodes, Pholisma, and Arceuthobium, are parasitic plants. Though they can not be grown in pots, they may be called "pseudosucculents."

I selected the species included here mostly based on the idea that, if they were Old World species instead of Californian, they would likely be considered "collector's succulents." The exceptions, of course, are the cacti, dudleyas, stonecrops, and agaves which are found in many succulent collections. Plants like Marah were included even though they are really too large for normal collections. The parasitic "pseudosucculents" and the chenopods adapted to "physiological drought" are included out of general interest.

(Aptenia, Carpobrotus, Conicosia, Delosperma, Drosanthemum, Malephora, and Mesembryanthemum are all introduced from South Africa.
Tetragonium is from South America.)
Sesuvium verrucosum "sea-purselane" Saline interior or coastal wetlands.

Jaumea carnosa "jaumea" Coastal salt marshes and bluffs.

Heliotropium curassavicum "heliotrope" Dry saline soils throughout California.
Roadside 'weed'

Bergerocactus emoryi "golden cereus" San Diego south.
Carnegia gigantea "saguaro" Eastern Sonoran Desert.
Echinocactus polycephalus "clustered barrel cactus" San Bernardino County south.
Echinocereus engelmannii "hedgehog cactus" San Bernardino County south.
Echinocereus triglochidiatus "hedgehog cactus" San Bernardino County south.
Escobaria vivipera "beehive or foxtail cactus" Mojave Desert south.
Ferocactus cylindraceus "California barrel cactus" Eastern Mojave Desert south.
Ferocactus viridescens "coast barrel cactus" San Diego south.
Mammillaria dioica "fish-hook cactus" Coastal Southern California south.
Mammillaria milleri "fish-hook cactus" San Bernardino County south.
Mammillaria tetrancistra "fish-hook cactus" Mojave Desert south.
OPUNTIA "chollas, beaver-tails, etc" Widespread. Cuddly Teddy Bear?
Opuntia bigelovii
     O. acanthocarpa var. coloradensis "buckhorn cholla"
     O. basilaris var. basilaris "beavertail"
     O. basilaris var. brachyclada "short-joint beavertail"
     O. basilaris var. treleasei "Bakersfield cactus"
     O. bigelovii "teddy-bear cholla"
     O. chlorotica "pancake prickly-pear"
     O. echinocarpa "silver or golden cholla"
     O. engelmannii var. engelmannii
        "Engelmann prickly-pear"
     O. erinacea var. erinacea "Mojave prickly-pear"
     O. erinacea var. utahensis
     O. ficus-indica introduced species
     O. xfosbergii "pink teddy-beasr cholla"
     O. fragilis "brittle prickly-pear"
     O. littoralis
     O. xmunzii "Munz's cholla"
     O. xoccidentalis
     O. oricola
     O. parishii "mat cholla"
     O. parryi "cane cholla"
     O. phaecantha
     O. prolifera
     O. pulchella "sand cholla"
     O. ramosissima "pencil cholla"
     O. xvaseyi
     O. wolfii "Wolf's cholla"
Sclerocactus johnsonii "pineapple cactus" Mojave Desert east and south.
Sclerocactus polyancistrus "Mojave fish-hook cactus" Mojave Desert east.

(Stem succulents adapted to "physiological drought" conditions because they grow
in areas with high salt content such as salt marshes and alkali flats)
Allenrolfea occidentalis "iodine bush" Interior saline flats.
Atriplex phyllostegia "arrowscale" Interior saline flats and meadows.
SALICORNIA "pickleweed" Stem-succulents, saline marshes and alkaline flats.
     S. bigelovii
     S. europaea
     S. subterminalis
     S. utahensis
     S. virginica
Sarcobatus vermiculatus "greasewood" Interior saline flats and washes.
SUAEDA "seepweed" Stem-succulents, saline marshes and alkaline flats.
     S. calceoliformis "horned sea-blite"
     S. californica "California sea-blite"
     S. esteroa "estuary sea-blite"
     S. moquinii "bush seepweed"
     S. taxifolia "woolly sea-blite"

(Aeonium and Cotyledon introduced from the Canary Islands and South Africa, respectively)
Crassula aquatica "aquatic stonecrop" Salt marshes, vernal pools.
Crassula connata "pygmy weed" Open flats throughout California.
Crassula solieri "vernal pool crassula" Vernal pools.
DUDLEYA "live forever or dudleya" Widespread, Many Uncommon and Rare
     D. abramsii var. abramsii
     D. abramsii var. affinis "San Bernardino Mountains duddleya"
     D. abramsii var. bettinae "Betty's Liveforever"
     D. abramsii var. muirina "mouse-leaved duddleya"
     D. abramsii var. parva "Conejo duddleya"
     D. attenuata var. orcuttii "Orcutt's duddleya"
     D. blochmaniae ssp. blochmaniae "Blochman's duddleya"
     D. blochmaniae ssp. brevifolia "short-leaved duddleya"
     D. blochmaniae ssp. insularis "Santa Rosa island duddleya"
     D. caespitosa
     D. calcicola "limestone duddleya"
     D. candelabrum "candleholder duddleya"
     D. cymosa ssp. costafolia "Pierpoint Springs duddleya"
     D. cymosa ssp. crebrifolia "San Gabriel river duddleya"
     D. cymosa ssp. cymosa
     D. cymosa ssp. marcescens "marcescent duddleya"
     D. cymosa ssp. ovatifolia " Santa Monica mountains duddleya"
     D. cymosa ssp. paniculata
     D. cymosa ssp. pumila
     D. densiflora "San Gabriel mountains duddleya"
     D. edulis
     D. farinosa
     D. greenei "Greene's duddleya"
     D. hassei
     D. lanceolata
     D. multicaulis "many-stemmed duddleya"
     D. nesiotica "Santa Cruz island duddleya"
     D. palmeri
     D. pulverulenta ssp. arizonica
     D. pulverulenta ssp. pulverulenta
     D. saxosa ssp. aloides
     D. saxosa ssp. saxosa "Panamint duddleya"
     D. setchellii "Santa Clara Valley duddleya"
     D. stolonifera "Laguna Beach duddleya"
     D. traskiae "Santa Barbara island duddleya"
     D. variegata "variegated duddleya"
     D. verityi "Verity's duddleya"
     D. virens "green liveforever"
     D. viscida "sticky-leaved liveforever"
Parvisedum congdonii "annual stonecrop" Open rocky sites in the Sierra.
Parvisedum leiocarpum "annual stonecrop" Vernal pools, Lake County.
Parvisedum pentandrum "annual stonecrop" Serpentine or sandstone, northern California.
Parvisedum pumilum "stonecrop" Vernal pools and rock outcrops, northern California.
SEDUM "stonecrop"
     S. albomarginatum "Feather River stonecrop"
     S. divergens "Cascade stonecrop"
     S. eastwoodiae "Red Mountain stonecrop"
     S. lanceolatum
     S. laxum ssp. flavidum "pale yellow stonecrop"
     S. laxum ssp. heckneri "Heckner's stonecrop"
     S. laxum ssp. laxum
     S. niveum "Davidson's stonecrop"
     S. oblanceolatum "Applegate stonecrop"
     S. obtusatum ssp. boreale
     S. obtusatum ssp. obtusatum
     S. obtusatum ssp. retusum
     S. oreganum
     S. oregonense
     S. paradisum "Canyon Creek stonecrop"
     S. radiatum
     S. roseum ssp. integrifolium
     S. spathulifolium
     S. stenopetalum

Cucurbita digitata "finger-leaved gourd" Southern California east.
Cucurbita foetidissima "calabazilla" Central Calif. south and east.
Cucurbita palmata "coyote melon" Central Calif. south and east.
MARAH "man-root" Throughout California.
     M. fabaceus "California man-root" Stickery Cuke
     M. horridus
     M. macrocarpus var. macrocarpus
     M. macrocarpus var. major
     M. oreganus "Coast man-root"
     M. watsonii

(These are sometimes referred to as "pseudosucculents",
parasitic plants with succulent stems or leaves.)
Allotropha virgata "sugar stick" Mountain forests, northern California north.
Hemitomes congestum "gnome plant" Mountain forests, northern California north.
Pityopus californicus "pinefoot" Mountain forests, northern California north.
Pleuricospora fimbriolata "pleuricospora" Mountain forests, northern California north.
Sarcodes sanguinea "snow plant" Mountain forests, southern California north.

(These are sometimes referred to as "pseudosucculents",
parasitic plants with succulent stems or leaves.)
Pholisma arenarium "sand food" Coastal dunes into the deserts.
Pholisma sonorae "sand food" Imperial County south and east.

Agave deserti "century plant" Sonoran desert southeast.
Agave shawii "Shaw's agave" San Diego County south.
Agave utahensis "Utah agave" Mojave desert east.

Abronia latifolia "yellow sand verbena" Coastal dunes.
Abronia maritima "red sand verbena" Coastal dunes.
Abronia villosa "desert sand verbena" Desert dunes.

(These are sometimes referred to as "pseudosucculents",
parasitic plants with succulent stems or leaves.)
Boschniakia hookeri " small ground-cone" Mountains north of San Francisco.
Boschniakia strobilacea "California ground-cone" Throughout California.
OROBANCHE "broom rape" Throughout California.
     O. bulbosa
     O. californica ssp. californica
     O. californica ssp. feudgei
     O. californica ssp. grandis
     O. californica ssp. grayana
     O. californica ssp. jepsonii
     O. cooperi
     O. corymbosa
     O. fasciculata "clustered broom-rape"
     O. parishii ssp. brachyloba "short-lobed broom-rape"
     O. parishii ssp. parishii
     O. pinorum
     O. ramosa introduced species
     O. uniflora "naked broom-rape"
     O. valida ssp. howellii "Howell's broom-rape"
     O. valida ssp. valida "Rock Creek broom-rape"
     O. vallicola

(mostly small caudiciforms)
Calyptridium monospermum "pussypaws" Montane conifer forests.
Calyptridium umbellatum "pussypaws" Montane conifer forests to alpine.
Claytonia lanceolata "western spring beauty" Woodland meadows.
Claytonia megarhiza "fell-fields claytonia" Sierran alpine.
Claytonia umbellata "claytonia" Rocky montane slopes.
Lewisia brachycalyx "lewisia" Montane meadows.
Lewisia cotyledon "cliff maids" Subalpine forests"
Lewisia glandulosa "lewisia" Montane to alpine meadows.
Lewisia leana "quill-leaved lewisia" Pine forests.
Lewisia nevadensis "lewisia" Montane conifer forests to alpine.
Lewisia pygmaea "small lewisia" Rocky slopes and meadows.
Lewisia rediviva "bitter root" Central California north.

Lycium andersonii "box thorn" Mojave desert south. (A shrub with small fat leaves)

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