Can you eat succulents?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat succulents?” and discuss some succulents?

Can you eat succulents?

Yes, you can eat succulents. However, you cannot eat all the succulent plants. There are many species of edible succulents, but some species of succulents are poisonous.

A great number of plants of the species Euphorbia are poisonous. Some examples are E. tirucalli, Euphorbia leuconeura, which are known to be carcinogenic and being able to influence and promote excessive cell division resulting in tumor growth. Other examples are E. tirucalli and Euphorbia royleana, from which latex is known to cause conjunctivitis on contact with eyes (9).

The various succulent plants may be edible and have positive effects on health, depending on their characteristics. The properties of the most relevant succulents are discussed separately in this article.


Saguaro belongs to the Cactaceae family. It is a columnar cactus and is still harvested for its fruits. The seeds of saguaro are a good source of protein and oil.

From jellies and syrups to ceremonial wines, tribal members of Arizona’s Tohono O’odham ethnic group have traditionally utilized the fruit. Fifty to one-hundred percent of the fruit is edible; it is usually sweet, and the sugary rich pulp contains many small seeds. 

The fruit can be consumed fresh, dried or preserved. The seeds are parched and ground into paste. According to studies, air-dried saguaro fruit contained 13.1% protein, 9.9% fat, 13.4% fiber and 6.9% ash, while the seeds contained 15.8% protein, 21.4% fat, 28.4% fiber and 2.3% ash (3).


Opuntia is known as prickly pear and according to several studies, both cactus fruit and cladode yield high values of important nutrients, such as betalains, amino compounds including taurine, minerals, vitamins, as well as further antioxidants. 

Due to the diurnal acidity modification of cladodes, harvesting a couple of hours after sunshine provides best cladodes for vegetable use, which are turgid, rich in sugars, pro-vitamin A and vitamin C, but poor in nitrogen. 

Fruit pulp is considered a good source of minerals, especially calcium, potassium and magnesium. The seeds are rich in minerals and sulfur amino acids (2).


Sedums are blooming succulents with up to 600 different kinds. The leaves of Sedum were used as water substitutes to alleviate thirst,  eaten as salad, in Bosnia during war (5).

Health Benefits: The leaves of  this medicinal species are popularly used to treat ulcers and inflammatory conditions. According to studies, the plant possesses antidiabetic properties due to the presence of Kaempferitrin, which is the most abundant flavonoid in the sedum. Kaempferitrin stimulates glucose metabolizing enzymes (4).


Salicornia has been historically used for both non-edible and edible purposes. Usage of the plant as a source of soda (sodium carbonate) for glass making dates back to centuries. Oriental pharmacopeia reports its medicinal uses. The efficacy of Salicornia against oxidative stress, inflammation, diabetes, asthma, hepatitis, cancer, gastroenteritis has been reported (6).

Studies have reported the presence of dietary fibers, bioactive polysaccharides, proteins, lipids, sterols, flavonoids, and minerals (Mg, Ca, Fe, K) in salicornia.

Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit is a vine cactus species belonging to the family Cactaceae. Dragon fruits are gaining popularity for their nutritional and medicinal properties. Pitaya or dragon fruit has a taste similar to that of a mildly sweet melon or kiwi.

Dragon fruit contains significant amounts of minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, sodium and magnesium. The fresh fruit contains 82.5-83.0% moisture, 0.16-0.23% protein, 0.21-0.61% fat, 0.7-0.9% fiber. 100 g of fresh fruit pulp contains 6.3-8.8 mg calcium, 30.2-36.1 mg phosphorus, 0.5-0.61 mg iron and 8-9 mg vitamin C (7).


Aloe vera is a traditional medicinal plant. In recent years, the use of this plant as a natural functional ingredient or in the fortification of food products from animal and vegetable sources has been increased. 

Some utilizations of aloe vera and has helped improve food quality, such as, extending the shelf life of vegetable and fruits; reducing pathogenic microorganism proliferation; preserving the antioxidant activity of the bioactive compounds; improving acceptability of product; promoting the growth of probiotics cultures, among others (1).

Antioxidants, vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, E, and folic acid are all abundant in aloe, which has been scientifically shown to provide health benefits. It may also help with constipation, according to certain studies.


Ferocactus is a small genus in the Cactaceae family. It comprises about 30 species of barrel-shaped cacti. The seeds of ferocactus are used to make tortillas in Mexico. Its raw flesh is consumed owing to its benefits in reduction of high blood pressure. 

The nutritional analysis revealed that carbohydrate (20.6%) was the most abundant nutrient followed by dietary fibers (11.8%), lipids (0.9%), and proteins (0.8%). It is rich in vitamins, minerals, essential, and non-essential amino acids. Studies revealed the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and acetylcholinesterase inhibitory potentials of the fruit extract and correlated them to the high content of phenolic compounds (8).


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat succulents?” and we discussed some succulents?


  1. Martínez-Burgos, Walter Jose, et al. Aloe vera: From ancient knowledge to the patent and innovation landscape–A review. South Afr J Bot, 2022. 
  2. Feugang, Jean Magloire, et al. Nutritional and medicinal use of Cactus pear (Opuntia spp.) cladodes and fruits. Front Biosci-Land, 2006, 11, 2574-2589.
  3. Ariffin, Radziah Bt. PROXIMATE ANALYSIS OF SONORAN DESERT FOOD PLANTS. The University of Arizona, 1984.
  4. Da Silva, Daniel, et al. Antidiabetic activity of Sedum dendroideum: metabolic enzymes as putative targets for the bioactive flavonoid kaempferitrin. IUBMB life, 2014, 66, 361-370.
  5. Redžić, Sulejman, and Jonathan Ferrier. The use of wild plants for human nutrition during a war: Eastern Bosnia (Western Balkans). Ethnobot Biocult Divers Balk, 2014, 149-182.
  6. Patel, Seema. Salicornia: evaluating the halophytic extremophile as a food and a pharmaceutical candidate. 3 Biotech, 2016, 6, 104.
  7. Hossain, Farid Md, Sharker Md Numan, and Shaheen Akhtar. Cultivation, nutritional value, and health benefits of Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus spp.): A Review. Int J Horticult Sci Technol, 2021, 8, 259-269.
  8. Abdel-Baki, Passent M., Rana M. Ibrahim, and Nariman E. Mahdy. Ferocactus herrerae Fruits: Nutritional Significance, Phytochemical Profiling, and Biological Potentials. Plant Foods Human Nutr, 2022, 77, 545-551.
  9. Mwine, T. Julius, and Van Patrick Damme. Why do Euphorbiaceae tick as medicinal plants? A review of Euphorbiaceae family and its medicinal features. J Medicin Plants Res, 2011, 5, 652-662.