Is Aloe Vera a Cactus?
Top 7 differences between them!

Things that look similar aren't always the same. You'll be shocked to find that aloe vera and cacti are far different from each other.

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Jimena Bolívar

June 27, 2021


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Introduction

Aloe vera is not a cactus. Confused? As humans, we rely on visual cues for identifying things. Despite that, things that fall under similar categories externally could have very different internal systems which sets them apart. Still, they are definitely succulents, so there is some sort of open-ended connection between these plants.

Here is what makes them different from each other: Their family, leaves, overall size, edibility, stored nutrients, medical uses, and blooming frequency.

an aloe vera and a cactus

Difference 1: Family

three lilies

Perhaps one of the biggest differences between cacti and aloe vera is quite literally their genes. Aloe Vera is a member of the lily family, and is genetically closer to lotus flowers than cacti. As strange as it is, there is a reason it’s called the Lily of Africa.

Pro-Tip

Even if they're of the lily family, aloe vera plants can be planted with other succulents. Be sure they're around the kind that become dormant during the winters.

Difference 2: Leaves

close up of cactus thorns

It’s understandable where the confusion comes from when the aloe vera has sharp prickles along the edges. But the fact of the matter is that while aloe vera has those ridges on its leaves, the spikes on the cactus are the leaves.

See, the fleshy part of the cactus is the stem, whereas you can’t exactly see the stem on an aloe vera plant. It’s obvious why an aloe vera plant is more of a succulent than a cactus.

Difference 3: Overall Size

succulents of different sizes

Cacti can grow pretty large outside of a home, but the aloe vera stays relatively close to the ground. Because of its differing functions and difference in base structure, aloe vera plants don’t have the stems to grow too high up from the soil.

Their leaves may elongate and reach out pretty far under the right conditions, which sets it apart from other, jucier looking succulents. Despite the long leaves, it still has a lot of mass as opposed to thinner leaves.

Difference 4: Edibility

cactus on cutting board

While both aloe and cactus are edible, there is still a clear divide in the main purpose of consuming them.

While a cactus can nourish you, the aloe vera plant will provide healing. Both are great for consumption in moderation. Make sure you know how to cook them well because both of these plants can be quite bitter in taste. The texture also needs getting accustomed to.

Warning!

Plants are generally great to consume, but take care with cacti and succulents as they do not operate like most plants do. You may be prone to specific allergies within them.

Difference 5: Stored Nutrients

cut cross-section of aloe vera

The benefits that come from eating either aloe vera or cacti can be used to its full potential when you know which gives what.

Aloe vera, with its healing properties, contains all kinds of anti-oxidants and vitamins. This means it helps with issues like acid reflux, digestion, and detox. It’s great for your gut in general.

Cacti are great for building up a healthier body as they contain a lot of minerals like magnesium, potassium, and many more. But be careful, not all cacti can be consumed!

To get some fun aloe vera recipes, head over here

8 Best Aloe Vera Recipes. With Step by Step Instructions!

Have you been dying to incorporate aloe vera into your diet or skincare routine? We have you covered! In this ultimate guide you’ll find all the aloe recipes you’ll need to make aloe a staple in your life.

Difference 6: Medical Uses

band aid around finger

While aloe vera is great for the inside of your body, it’s also great for the outside. Aloe is used for a lot of skin conditions like burns, acne, bacterial infections, and even inhibits dental plaque!

Cacti are not to be taken as casually as aloe vera, though. Only those well-read in these matters will tell you which cactus species will provide you benefits. The wrong one could cause a funny or otherwise dangerous episode of intoxication.

Pro-tip

Aloe vera has a lot of great uses not just for your skin and gut, but also for your hair. Once you learn how to use aloe vera to your advantage, you might cut down on buying ointments from your local pharmacy.

Difference 7: Blooming Frequency

cactus with flowers

A lot of cacti species are monocarpic, and this means that they die after flowering. They also flower extremely infrequently, which means you’ll see a flower on a cactus perhaps in its 30s.

Opposed to that, aloe vera gives flowers quite often and do not die after. You might see multiple blooms in its lifetime, and perhaps even in a year if they’re taken care of very well!

Conclusion

Now that we know what makes aloe vera so different from cacti, we can make good use of each of them accordingly. The seven main differences are their family, leaves, overall size, edibility, stored nutrients, medical uses, and blooming frequency.

Perhaps you could use this as a fun little trivia with all your succulent loving friends!

Jimena Bolívar Picture

By Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Jimena Bolívar Picture

Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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