What cactus do I have: discover the keys to know the species

what cactus do i have

More than 1,700 different species of cacti, more than 8,000 if you also include succulents. It makes sense that when you are offered a cactus, or find one you like, you buy it and wonder what cactus I have.

There are ways to tell, at least approximately, which cacti you have in your collection. For this reason, on this occasion we want to give you a hand so that you know how to get the type of cactus you have, or glimpse what type it could be. Go for it?


How do I know which cactus I have

Irrigation of succulents should be rare

To know what type of cactus you have, it is necessary to carefully observe the characteristics of the plant, such as shape, size, color and thorns. Additionally, you can use online resources, such as pictures and descriptions of different cactus species, to compare the characteristics of your cactus with those of other known cacti.

Here are some things you can look at to determine the type of cactus you have:

  • Shape: Look at the general shape of the plant. Is it cylindrical, spherical, columnar, globular or fan-shaped?
  • Size: Determine the size of the cactus. Is it small, medium or large?
  • Spines: In this case, focus on the type, size, and arrangement of the cactus spines. Are they short or long? Are they grouped into large or small groups? Are they arranged in a specific pattern?
  • Flowers: If the plant has flowers, look at the shape, size and color of the flowers.
  • Color: Look at the general color of the cactus. Is it green, blue, yellow or another color?

Once you have observed these characteristics, you can search online for pictures and descriptions of different cactus species to compare them to your plant and determine its species. You can also consult a cactus expert or a desert plant nursery to help you identify them.

with apps

If you have a smartphone, you also have some plant identification apps. Its operation is very similar in all of them since it will ask you between one and three photos to analyze the characteristics of these and give you a result, or several, that may correspond to the copy you have.

Some examples of these applications are Plantnet or Plant Parent (the latter is paid, but you can try it for a bit for free).

Other than that, we are going to state some aspects that can give you an answer to this question which plant do I have.

How to identify which cactus I have

How often do you water a cactus?

Since we want you to have no problem identifying which cactus you have at home, in addition to what we have mentioned above, here we give you some keys that can help you know which one you have.

succulent family

You may not know it, but cacti are among the succulents and there are more than 8,000 species. Among them, as we told you at the beginning, 1700 would be cacti themselves. But the truth is that there are 7 families that are the most common.


This is where cacti usually stay. It is characterized by having a part that acts as a succulent, that is, it stores water inside. Moreover, they have stems and roots with thorns.

Visually, they will be cacti with a smooth stem that swells to accumulate water. They have no leaves (or few species do) and these, if they have any, are full of thorns.


They are plants that have the succulent part in the leaves, so that they are plump and fluffy, very decorative.

The vast majority of them have no thorns and are not considered cacti per se, but succulents.


They are also succulents and have that storage in the leaves, but the truth is that their appearance is usually more of a bush, with long, flat leaves. Of course, at the end they may have occasional thorns, or on the edges of them.


We could say that euphorbias are not cacti, but we often see them as such. They attract attention because they have a very varied shape that attracts a lot of attention. They can be thinner like cacti (thinner than these), but can also be creeping.

In most cases they have thorns on the edges of their stems and they produce flowers.

characteristics of enopla spurge


Yes, if this reminded you of aloe, you’re on the right track. They are characterized by a bushy form with succulent, soft and fluffy leaves.


They attract a lot of attention because they are flowering plants. Most characteristic of this family are the lithops or stone plants, which are soft, very small and creeping, which can open to produce very showy flowers.


The last families you can find are these, characterized by being a kind of shrub or tree since they can reach 2 meters in height.

They have small but fleshy leaves because that’s where they accumulate water.

Based on everything we told you, you could identify the characteristics of your plant to find out which family it would belong to and at least narrow the search. However, the best way may be to compare the photo of your plant, either in the apps or in the photos. How would you do? Have you had any doubts with any of your plants?

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