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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