What Are Herbaceous Plants? Are Succulents Herbaceous?

What Are Herbaceous Plants?

If you read many gardening blogs and books, you may have heard the term herbaceous plant. You may have thought herbaceous was just a fancy saying herb, like the kind you cook with. But herbaceous plants are something different than rosemary and thyme! They’re a group of plants with soft stems instead of the hard, woody ones that trees and bushes have. Because many herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage have woody stems, they don’t cut and can’t be considered herbaceous! Isn’t that funny? 

But a lot of other plants do fall under this pretty broad classification. Everything from agaves to peonies to potatoes is herbaceous plants because of their soft stems. If you want to learn more about this broad category of plants, keep reading! 

What Are Herbaceous Plants?
Hand-held succulent planter @suculentascoloridass

Define Herbaceous Plant

Herbaceous plants are vascular plants, which means that they have a vascular system. It’s similar to the one humans have and transports water around the plant. All herbaceous plants also have soft, fleshy stems—not the woody ones found on shrubs and trees. Most flowers, vegetables, and houseplants are herbaceous.

Herbaceous plants are divided into three more specific categories based on their life cycles—perennials, biennials, and annuals. Perennials are plants that grow continuously for more than two years, while biennials are plants that live for a total of two years. Annual plants only live for a single growing season.

Later in the post, we’ll teach you about herbaceous perennials, biennials, and annuals. But right now, we’re going to answer the question you’re all probably wondering—are your beloved succulent plants herbaceous? 

What Are Herbaceous Plants?
Assorted succulents growing on a ceramic planter @cactos_suculentas_dicas

Types Of Herbaceous Plants

Herbaceous plants are known to fit into two main significant kinds and are placed according to the purpose they serve.

Some are culinary herbs used in cooking or baking or as garnish.  For a succulent to be fit for food, one must be well cleaned. And most importantly, it is safe to consume. Just because a succulent may look juicy doesn’t mean it is safe to devour. Additionally, one should make sure that the part they have of that particular succulent is safe to eat as some parts of a culinary may be unfit for consumption.

The other kind of herbaceous plant is the Medicinal succulents which make a variety of medications as the main or supplement ingredient. Or are used as a remedy in their raw states. The sap found within medicinal succulents is the part extracted that serves the therapeutic purpose. They soothe burns and scalds, heal gaping cuts, and treat certain skin diseases such as eczema and acne.

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Are Succulents Herbaceous Plants? 

Most succulents have soft, fleshy stems, so they fit the definition of herbaceous plants! Even cacti, with their tough outer skin, are considered herbaceous. With that being said, not every succulent is herbaceous.

The Joshua Tree, for example, is a massive tree from the agave family that can grow to be 40 feet tall. It has a super thick, woody stem, just like any other tree. You probably can’t call it an herbaceous plant like other members of the agave family! 

The same could probably be said about jade plants. They’re miniature, treelike succulents that have thick, woody stems. They’re probably not herbaceous because they’re like bonsai trees, but they are cute! If you want to learn more about jade plants, you should check out the article we wrote about them

Most succulents can also be classified as herbaceous perennials because they live for many years. We’ll explain what an herbaceous perennial is in more detail below!

What Are Herbaceous Plants?
Assorted succulent plants @curso_de_cactos_online

What Makes A Succulent Herbaceous Plant?

Herbaceous plants, first and foremost, must be vascular plants with no woody stems above ground. Instead, herbaceous plants must have fleshy leaves and stem plumply filled with water in their tissue cells.

Secondly, herbaceous plants must have savory or aromatic properties turned into garnishes, flavors, medicine, or fragrances. Any of the uses, as mentioned above, may be achieved by the manufacturer of processed products. Or directly by the usage of the herbaceous plants in their raw states.

Herbaceous perennials are non-woody plants that live for more than two years. Most succulents are herbaceous perennials, as are many flowers. Flowers that die during the winter and come back in the spring, such as asters, are also classified as herbaceous perennials.

Examples Of Culinary And Medicinal Succulents

As mentioned earlier, Culinary plants are herbaceous plants that are fit for human consumption. They may be boiled, fried, and in most cases used as a salad dressing or as a garnish.

On the other hand, the medicinal ones manufacture some medications. These medications vary in potency and usage as well. Some are swallowed, and others are used as ointments.

Below are a few herbaceous plants appreciated in the culinary world and the medical industry.

The Cuban Oregano

The Cuban Oregano is known as Plectranthus amboinicus. It is a perennial succulent that has sweet-smelling foliage. The leaves contain tart oils that can be extracted and used for cooking.

It has naturally thick, fuzzy leaves with a robust gratifying odor. The leaves have a greenish-grey hue, entirely covered with fine hairs with serrated margins. These perennial succulent blooms in pinnacles, and their flowers may be pink, lavender, or white.

Compared to other oregano types, the Cuban Oregano is said to have a more robust flavor. Therefore, the perennial succulent is used in small amounts for seasoning to avoid an overpowering flavor.

Are Succulents Herbaceous Plants
Plectranthus Amboinicus @an_azure_favorite

#1. Growing And Caring For The Cuban Oregano

The Cuban perennial succulent thrives in a well-draining, crumbly soil mixture. The best place to put this plant is away from direct sunlight, as direct solar exposure dries off the plant.

A container-grown and a ground cultivated perennial Oregano needs regular watering. But only when the soil is dry. And it is more frequently done in the spring and summer and dialed down in the winter. Check out these tips for growing your succulent in our article “How To Grow Indoor Succulents Successfully”.

#2. Uses Of Cuban Oregano

The leaves are used as a seasoning to flavor meat stews for food.  The leaves are best when they have been dried and crushed. The Fresh ones are used in small amounts for soups, stews, and the making of poultry stuffing. They are not quite palatable for salads because their leaves have a hairy feature. They would irritate the tongue, which is not such a pleasant feeling.

The leaves are also harvested to treat throat and respiratory infections, constipation, flatulence, rheumatism, and as a lactation stimulant.

Jewels Of Opar

This succulent also goes by the scientific name Talinum paniculatum. It is also known as Pink Baby’s breath or Flame flower. These names come from its hazy red flowers that look like cotton candy hanging over the crop. It has stunning bright lime green leaves that are ideal to use as a border plant. It is also an excellent addition to your colorful garden.

#1. Growing And Caring For The Jewels Of Opar Succulent

This succulent loves the full sun but does even better in the slight shade for a few hours a day. It has a high tolerance for drought, which means it can go without water for a very long time. But if its location is in a pot, watering is done when the soil is dry. It does well in sandy and well-drained soils. Therefore, it grows best in rock gardens and tropical areas. Think you may be having trouble with your succulent? Click here to read our article “5 Tips on Saving Dying Succulents” for tips if your succulent isn’t looking healthy and is at risk of dying.

Are Succulents Herbaceous Plants
Talinum Paniculatum @jenn.pineau

#2. Uses Of Jewel Of Opar

The succulent’s bright lime green juicy leaves make an excellent addition to salads and sandwiches. They are quite economical because of their availability during the hot, dry weather when most green salad additions are scarce.

Their tiny seeds are very nutritious and are an excellent supplement of omega-3 oils. When eaten raw, the leaves are also quite tasty and are only slightly mucilaginous. However, the gummy leaves should not be consumed in large quantities because they contain oxalic acid.

Caution needs to be observed during consumption as taking in too much may cause shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting.

Other uses besides culinary or medicinal are that the delicate heads with their shiny red orbs make beautiful bouquet flower fillers.

Are Succulents Herbaceous Plants
Help as a Medicinal @antara_garden365

Aloe Vera

The Aloe Vera is probably one of the most sought-after medicinal herbaceous plants of the whole lot. The herbaceous plant is a short-stemmed shrub. Aloe Vera succulent forms a rosette of thick, fleshy green blades with a slightly frigid blue-green color.

The two most essential components of the succulent are the Aloe Vera juice and the Aloe Vera gel. The juice is mainly found in a thin layer under the succulent skin. It is also known as the Aloe Vera latex or sap. On the other hand, the gel is found in the middle of the leaf.

#1. Growing And Caring For The Aloe Vera Succulent

They do best in a cactus potting mix that is fast-draining and well aerated. The soil should be improved with additional soil expanders such as perlite or builder’s sand for best results. The plants should also be cultivated where the sun’s exposure is bright and direct. The watering is done using the soak and dry method, only when the ground is parched. Interested in growing Aloe Vera at your house? Check out our piece on “How to Grow Aloe Vera“.

#2. Uses Of Aloe Vera Herbaceous Succulent

Aloe Vera is mainly grown for its medicinal purposes, which are pretty numerous.

Are Succulents Herbaceous Plants
Uses Of Aloe Vera Succulent @tatanam.id

First, the Aloe vera gel is a crucial ingredient in some kinds of toothpaste and is active in fighting cavities. The Aloe Vera latex contains anthraquinones that actively heal and relieve pain with its anti-inflammatory effects. The gel can also aid in reducing constipation because it has a high fiber content that will get things moving. The gel is taken in liquid or capsule form once a day for a few days.

Aloe vera is also a hub of several minerals and vitamins that can be incorporated into your diet as supplements. It supplies B-12, which helps make DNA and nerve and blood cells. One also gets Choline, which is involved in nerve signaling, and Folic acid, essential for fetal growth during pregnancy. Lastly, it has vitamins A, C, and E that have antioxidant capabilities.

The Aloe Vera gel has also been used to relieve burns. It accomplishes this by improving blood circulation to the affected spot and stopping cell damage around the injury. The application of the gel creates instantaneous pain relief because of its cooling sensation. The gel is part of many moisturizing creams used by cancer patients to protect their skin from radiation.

Check out more benefits from the Aloe Vera in “How the Aloe Vera Succulent Can Help with Eczema“.

Final Words

Well, there you have it! That is absolutely everything we know about herbaceous plants. We hope that this post demystified the term for you so you can understand gardening blogs and books a little bit better. 

Did this article help answer your succulent-care questions? We sure hope so! If not, no worries. Succulent City is devoted to aiding all succulent lovers, and that’s why we created a line of ebook guides! Check out our in-depth tips on “The Best Soil Recommendations for Your Succulent” or even “The Most Common Issues Amongst Succulent Growers”  today! 

Happy Planting!

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