When out in the woods and frolicking among the foliage, it’s nice to understand what kind of plants you’re dealing with.

Understanding various classifications can be incredibly helpful to recognize a plant’s family, edibility, and toxicity.

Dicots and monocots are one such way to do this.

If you have a plant, like a succulent, and are unsure about what it is, identifying its cotyledons can help.

Is A Succulent A Monocot Or Dicot?

A dicot succulent

Depending on the genus and species, succulents can be either a dicot or a monocot.

But what does this mean and what’s the difference?

Related Article: Is A Succulent An Angiosperm?

Cotyledons For Beginners

For the uninitiated in botany, the “cot” is short for cotyledon, which is the first leaf- or vein-like structures that sprout from seedling activity.

Any flower-producing plant will have cotyledons.

These aren’t “true leaves,” they’re an embryonic resemblance of a leaf and play an important role in a plant’s growth.

The Function Of Cotyledons

These absorb important nutrients and moisture for the seedling until it grows strong and big enough to make its first actual leaves.

But some plants do not sprout a cotyledon above soil.

The main difference between monocots and dicots are the characteristics in which they grow, the way they look along with how food and water nourish it.

But if you have an adult plant with blooming flowers, identifying them by their veins will be impossible.

In this case, you can recognize a plant through four distinct features: leaves, flowers, stems, and roots.

Monocots VS Dicots

Generally speaking, a monocot has one vein or “cot” while a dicot has two branched veins.

This distinction allows plants to grow in different ways.

But it won’t help with identification once the plant is in full development.


Monocots are simple plants, which makes them more primitive and symmetrical.

They maintain their growth from seedling to adult in a similar fashion; one leaf at a time from the center of the plant.

Monocot veins can be parallel to one another, but this doesn’t apply to all monocots; especially when they reach adulthood.

Monocot Identification And Examples

Monocots have long, strap-like leaves with parallel veins from a central structure, like a stem or trunk.

They often connect to this structure by a surrounding sheath.

Monocots also have pollen with a single furrow or pore across the leaf and roots arising from unexpected positions in a fiber-like formation.

They don’t have secondary growth.

Examples Of Monocot Succulents

A few examples of succulents that are monocot are:

  • Aloe.
  • Agave.
  • Orchids.
  • Amaryllis.
  • Pineapple.
  • Bamboo.
  • Dragon’s blood.
  • Yucca.

With agaves, you can see the striped veins that follow its leaf shape and grow from the center.


Dicots do not grow as linear as monocots.

These grow out from branches and stems without any sheath.

Sometimes this careens from a middle vein on either side of a leaf that looks similar to a feather.

Yet, other dicots grow from a single vein, appearing like fingers on the palm of a hand.

Dicot Identification And Examples

Dicots have pollen with three furrows or pores and secondary growth is often visible.

The roots develop from the radicle as a single taproot.

Examples Of Dicot Succulents

Examples of succulent dicots are:

  • Ragwort.
  • Periwinkle.
  • Purslane.
  • Stonecrop.
  • Bean.
  • Gourd.
  • Heather.
  • Spurge.
  • Balsam.
  • Cactus.

In fact, the cactus is an example of a “true” dicot.

Flower And Root Designation

If the plant is in bloom, the best way to tell the difference between a monocot or dicot is by looking at the number of petals and parts of its flower.

Monocots have petals and parts in multiples of three while dicots have multiples of four or five.

As a last resort, you could dig into the soil to check the root system.

If there’s one large root at the base with smaller roots branching out, this is a taproot system and means the plant is a dicot.

If you find a network of fibrous roots, that means the plant is a monocot.

Succulent Cotyledons

Knowing the difference between monocots and dicots will help you understand what kind of succulent you have in front of you.

Succulents span the range of cotyledons depending on their genus and species, so long as it’s a flowering one.

What Type Of A Plant Is A Succulent?

It can be a little difficult to put your finger on exactly what a succulent is.

For example, all cactus plants can be defined as succulents but not all succulents are cactus plants.

Succulents can be defined as plants that are drought resistant due to an ability to store water in their extra-fleshy leaves, roots, or stems.

Various species of succulents can be found living within many different families of plants.

There are around sixty different plant families that contain succulents and in some of these families, such as Cactaceae and Aizoaceae, most of the species within them are succulents.

Although succulents are mainly thought of as drought-resistant desert-dwelling plants they can be found living within every continent on earth (apart from Antarctica).

And apart from dry areas like deserts, succulents can also be found thriving in habitats that are exposed to high amounts of dissolved minerals, such as dry lakes and seacoasts; habitats that would be far too toxic for most other types of plants to survive.