Is Snake Plant a Succulent?

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Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Tony Manhart

You love filling your space with lush greenery, but sometimes it’s hard to tell which plants fall into which category. One plant that often has people scratching their heads is the snake plant. With its long, slender leaves and low maintenance requirements, you might wonder if it falls into the succulent family. In this article, we will explore the question, “Is snake plant a succulent?” By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of whether this popular houseplant belongs to the succulent club or not. Get ready to unlock the mystery!


If you’re an avid plant lover or just starting to explore the world of gardening, you’ve likely come across the term “succulents”. These intriguing plants have gained immense popularity over the years due to their unique appearance and ability to thrive in various environments. One particular plant that often sparks confusion among gardeners is the snake plant. Is the snake plant a succulent? In this article, we will explore the definition of succulents, the characteristics of snake plants, the differences and similarities between snake plants and other succulents, and shed some light on the misconceptions surrounding snake plants.

Definition of Succulents

To understand whether the snake plant belongs to the succulent family, it’s important to first understand what defines a succulent. Succulents are a group of plants that have adapted to arid environments by developing fleshy, water-storing structures, such as leaves, stems, or roots. This adaptation enables them to survive long periods of drought. Succulents come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors, making them highly diverse and visually appealing additions to any plant collection.

Characteristics of succulents

One key characteristic of succulents is their ability to retain water in their leaves, stems, or roots, which helps them withstand dry conditions. These water-storing structures allow succulents to survive in environments where most other plants would struggle. Additionally, succulents often have thick or waxy leaves, which helps minimize water loss through evaporation.

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Types of succulents

There are numerous types of succulents, each with its own unique traits and adaptations. Some popular examples include aloe vera, jade plants, echeverias, and haworthias. While succulents may share common features that enable them to thrive in arid conditions, they come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and growth habits.

Characteristics of Snake Plant

Now, let’s turn our attention to the snake plant and examine its characteristics to determine whether it can be classified as a succulent.


Snake plants, also known as Sansevierias, are known for their tall, upright leaves that resemble the patterns found on a snake’s skin. They can grow to be several feet in height and have a striking architectural quality. The leaves of snake plants often feature dark green coloration with yellow stripes or variegation, adding to their visual appeal.

Leaf structure

The structure of the snake plant’s leaves further sets it apart from other succulents. Unlike many succulents with fleshy or thick leaves, snake plants have long, slender leaves. Although they may not possess the characteristic plumpness of other succulents, snake plants still store water in their leaves, making them highly resilient to dry conditions.

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Water storage capacity

While snake plants do store water in their leaves, their water storage capacity is relatively lower compared to most typical succulents. This means that snake plants may require more frequent watering compared to other succulents that can go extended periods without water. However, relative to traditional houseplants, snake plants are still considered low-maintenance and can tolerate some neglect.

Differences Between Snake Plant and Succulents

Although snake plants share some characteristics with succulents, there are distinct differences that set them apart.

Leaf shape

One of the notable differences between snake plants and many succulents is the shape of their leaves. While succulents often have thick and plump leaves, snake plants have long, narrow leaves that grow upright from the base. The shape of the leaves gives snake plants their unique, architectural appearance.

Leaf arrangement

Another difference lies in the arrangement of leaves. Most succulents feature rosettes, where leaves grow in a circular pattern from a central point, creating a dense and compact structure. In contrast, snake plants have leaves that grow in a more linear fashion, forming an elongated cluster. This distinctive growth habit is what sets snake plants apart from many succulents.

Water requirements

Although snake plants store water in their leaves, they generally require more frequent watering compared to many succulents. Succulents are known for their ability to go long periods without water, thanks to their water-storing adaptations. Snake plants, while still considered drought-tolerant, need regular watering to ensure their survival and health.

Growth habit

In terms of growth habit, succulents often have a compact and bushy form, with leaves growing densely from a central point. Snake plants, on the other hand, grow in a more upright manner, sending up tall leaves from a centralized base. This makes snake plants ideal for adding vertical interest to any indoor or outdoor space.

Similarities Between Snake Plant and Succulents

Despite the differences, snake plants and succulents also share some striking similarities.

Drought tolerance

Both snake plants and succulents exhibit remarkable drought tolerance. Their ability to store water in their leaves, stems, or roots allows them to survive in dry and arid conditions. These plants are often found in desert regions or areas with limited rainfall, making them highly adaptable to environments where water is scarce.

Easy to care for

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting your plant journey, both snake plants and succulents are considered easy to care for. They are generally low-maintenance plants that can withstand neglect and are forgiving to occasional over or under-watering. This makes them a popular choice for busy individuals or those who may not have a green thumb.

Adaptability to different environments

Both snake plants and succulents are highly adaptable to a wide range of environments. They can thrive in various lighting conditions, from bright indirect sunlight to low light conditions. Additionally, they can tolerate a range of temperatures, making them suitable for both indoor and outdoor settings. This adaptability adds to their versatility and makes them a great choice for any plant enthusiast.

Misconceptions About Snake Plant being a Succulent

While snake plants share some features with succulents, there are several misconceptions that have led to the confusion about their classification.

Confusion due to appearance

One of the main reasons for the misconception is the appearance of snake plants. With their fleshy leaves and ability to withstand dry conditions, snake plants can easily be mistaken for succulents. However, as previously discussed, snake plants have distinct characteristics that differentiate them from many typical succulents.

Historical misclassification

In the past, snake plants were often classified as succulents due to their ability to store water in their leaves. However, with advancements in plant taxonomy and classification, snake plants are now recognized as members of the Sansevieria genus, which is distinct from typical succulents. This reclassification has helped shed light on the unique characteristics and requirements of snake plants.

Scientific Classification

To further clarify the distinction between snake plants and succulents, let’s explore their scientific classifications.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria)

The snake plant, scientifically known as Sansevieria, belongs to the Asparagaceae family. Within this family, it falls under the subfamily Nolinoideae. The Sansevieria genus includes over 70 recognized species, each with its own characteristics and growth habits. While snake plants share some similarities with succulents, they are classified separately due to their distinct features.

Succulents (Succulentum)

The term “succulents” does not refer to a specific scientific classification. Instead, it is a broad term used to describe a group of plants that have evolved similar characteristics to thrive in arid environments. Succulents come from various plant families, including but not limited to Crassulaceae, Agavaceae, and Aizoaceae. The wide array of species and families within the succulent category further emphasizes the diversity and adaptability of these fascinating plants.


So, is the snake plant a succulent? While snake plants may share some characteristics with succulents, they have distinct features that set them apart. Their unique leaf shape, arrangement, water requirements, and growth habit differentiate them from many typical succulents. However, both snake plants and succulents exhibit drought tolerance, are easy to care for, and can adapt to different environments. Understanding the differences and similarities between these plants will help you make informed decisions when it comes to choosing and caring for them in your own garden.

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