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Plants: Gardens: Baja & Old World Succulent Gardens

Succulent. The word conjures up images of things delectable and desirable, and that's what you'll find in the oases of extraordinary plants at the Safari Park called the Old World Succulent Garden and the Baja Garden. You'll also discover the truth about an old misconception: All cacti are indeed succulents, but all succulents are not, in fact, cacti. These gardens present you with a wide variety of species with fleshy, water-storing leaves and stems, such as elephant trees, boojums, and euphorbias, along with the well-known cacti. The Baja Garden has more than 200 boojums, making this the largest collection of these plants outside their native habitat.

Here, too, are drought-tolerant species like agaves, yuccas, and palms. These plants are true survivors, with an amazing array of adaptations that allow them to thrive in the most inhospitable of habitats. In January look for spiky aloes in bloom. These South African natives are always interesting to look at. Between the two gardens there are more than 200 species represented, cared for by volunteers of the San Diego Cactus and Succulent Society. As you wander along this picturesque hillside, see how many of the mysteries of the arid world you can uncover.