Mark A. Dimmitt
© 1985 ASDM
Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) are one of easiest plants to identify in the desert. They are a large shrub with long cane-like unbranched spiny stems that grow from a short trunk. Small 2 inch leaves will grow from the stems when there is enough moisture. Dense clusters of red tubular flowers grow from the end of the stems from March through June.
Ocotillo prefer a habitat that is open and very rocky, and where the soil is well drained. Areas such as rocky slopes, mesas, washes and desert grasslands.
Ocotillo are common in most areas of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. They are also found in western Texas through to southern California.
There is much discussion on exactly how old Ocotillo can live. A good estimate is 60 years although some studies indicate they can live well over 100 years
Ocotillo can reach heights of up to 20 feet.
The Ocotillo is called many different names including Candlewood, Slimwood, Coachwhip, Vine Cactus, Flaming Sword and Jacob's Staff.
The Ocotillo is often use as “fencing” because its spines stop people and animals from passing through.