Fouquieria splendens


The Ocotillo is a bajada resident that can be relied on to bloom annually, even without leafing in particularly dry springs. It is an inverted, funnel-shaped desert plant with several woody, spiny, whip-like, straight branches angling outward from the base and rising as high as 20 feet.

Ocotillo are leafless most of the year, except immediately after rain; the leaves then quickly wither after the soil dries out. These narrow, oval leaves are about 2 inches long, appearing in bunches above spines.


Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts of southeast California to west Texas and south into Mexico.


Open, stony, well-drained desert slopes below 5,000 feet.


Red flowers are 1/2 to 1 inch in length, with five short lobes curled back into 10-inch clusters. They appear at the ends of branches March through June or later, depending on rainfall.



Mature plants have as many as 75 slender branches (canes). Planted in rows, Ocotillo become living fences.

Members of the Ocotillo Family (Fouquieriaceae), there are 11 species of the Fouquieria genus, most of which occur in Mexico. The Ocotillo is the northernmost of these species. The Boojum Tree (F. columnaris) is a close relative occurring in Baja.Fouquieria splendens


Other names for the Ocotillo include:

  • Candlewood
  • Slimwood
  • Coachwhip
  • Vine Cactus
  • Flamingsword
  • Jacob's Staff

-- A.R Royo


Share this page on Facebook:

DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)

The Desert Environment
The North American Deserts
Desert Geological Terms


Past Wildflower Season Videos
click on links below

2009 Wildflower Video

2006 Wildflower Season -
Click here to play.

2005 Wildflower Season -
Click here
to play

Mojave Desert Wildflowers Book
200 color photos

Wildflower Field Guide - find flowers by color

Purple & Blue Flowers

Pink, Red, & Orange Flowers

Yellow & Gold Flowers

White Flowers | Guide

wildflower seeds

Hot temperatures in the desertAre you interested in the temperatures in the desert?

Click here to see current desert temperatures!

Copyright © 1996-2016 DesertUSA.com and Digital West Media, Inc. - -