Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.
Search native plant database:
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia
Fouquieria splendens Engelm.
Ocotillo, Devil's walking stick, Candlewood
Synonym(s): Fouquieria splendens ssp. splendens
USDA Symbol: FOSP2
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
Ocotillo is a spiny shrub to 20 ft. with many long, whip-like, unbranched green stems growing from the base. Stems are leafless most of the year, covering themselves with bright green leaves after a rain. A funnel-shaped plant with several woody, almost unbranched, spiny, commonly straight stems leafless most of the year, and a tight cluster of red flowers at tip of each branch. Scarlet, tubular-shaped flowers are held in terminal clusters.
The family consists of about 11 species, mostly in Mexico, with Ocotillo (pronounced o-ko-tee-yo) the most northern, and perhaps the Boojum Tree (F. columnaris) of Baja California the most unusual. Leaves appear only after rain and wither when the soil dries, a cycle commonly repeated several times during the warm season. The name Ocotillo means little pine in Mexican Spanish, a reference to the fact that, like a pine (ocote), its stalks produce a resin used by humans for various purposes.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Leaf:
Flowers in 8 inch spikes Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red , Orange
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul
, TX Native Distribution:
to s. CA
& n. Mex. Native Habitat:
Flat desert areas
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Sandy or rocky soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Limestone-based, Igneous
Conditions Comments: Drought tolerant. Tall, spreading stems with thorns form an impenetrable enclosure.
Screens, Desert landscape, Security hedge Use Wildlife:
Flowers attract hummingbirds, finches and many other birds as well as insects. Nectar-hummingbirds, Nectar-insects, Nectar-bees, Seeds-granivorous birds, Seeds-Small mammals Use Other:
Gum resin in bark
used for waxing leather and adhesive/waterproofing agent, and varnish. Conspicuous Flowers:
PropagationPropagation Material: Seeds
Description: Will sprout from untreated seeds sown in spring or early summer. Reproduces most reliably from cuttings taken any time.
Seed Collection: Gather seeds as the capsules turn brown and begin to dry but before they dehisce. Air dry, remove seeds from capsules, and store in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: No pretreatment is necessary.
Record Last Modified: 2009-05-14
Research By: TWC Staff