Fouquieria splendens Fouquieriaceae
Ocotillo fo-KAIR-e-a SPEN-dens
- Very distinctive, upright, drought-deciduous shrub, to 20 ft (6 m) high, vase-shaped, many (6-100) twisted, unbranched, wand-like gray stems arise from the root crown, with spines to 4 cm long. Leaves simple, alternate, elliptic to oblanceolate, 3-5 cm long, secondary leaves smaller. Leaf abscission occurs under water stress so ocotillo appears leafless most of the year, but it rapidly refoliates after rain. Leaf drop and leaf growth may occur several times during a season. Flowers red, tubular, about 2 cm long, in long (to 25 cm) terminal clusters; attract hummingbirds. Fruit, a capsule, about 15 × 6 mm, containing many winged seeds.
- Sun and well-drained soil. No additional water needed once established, but to retain leaves water twice a month during the summer. Easy to grow, can be used to make an impenetrable hedge. Can be propagated by sticking cuttings in the ground. This property is the basis for the ocotillo fence, a natual "barbed wire" fence in which the branches are wired together in panels, and when placed in the ground, take root and form a living fence.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 8 Native range is from the southern tip of Nevada south through the Mohave and Sonoran deserts of California to Arizona and east to the Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico and western Texas; south into Mexico to the state of Durango.
- splendens: splendid