Family: Fouquieriaceae
Common Name: Ocotillo

From the desert areas of Mexico and south-western United States, this genus comprises around ten species of spiny and succulent shrubs and trees. All species have thickened stems, masses of thorny branches and small, oval, bright green, deciduous leaves which appear after rain. The showy, hell-shaped flow­ers, often with rolled-back tips, appear in clus­ters at the ends of the branches in summer or autumn, also after rain. They also come in red, cream, yellow, white or light purple. In the wild, some species are pollinated by humming birds.


F. columnaris (Synonym: Idria columnaris), boojum tree, is a spiny tree, growing to 20 m (65 ft) in its habitat, with a thick, whitish trunk. The branches form at 90 degrees to the trunk and the small, roundish leaves are deciduous. Bell-shaped, creamy flowers, with a light honey fragrance, are produced in summer to autumn.

F. splendens, variously known as ocotillo, can­dlewood and flaming sword, is the most popu­larly cultivated species. It has a short, swollen trunk, thorny, arched branches and numerous, bright red flowers with rolled lobes which appear after rain.


In climates prone to frost, grow in an airy, intermediate greenhouse or conserva­tory, in pots of cactus compost. Ensure maximum light. Do not water in winter but water moderately during the growing period. Outdoors, plants need full sun and soil that is very well drained, but not too rich. Propagate from seed or softwood cuttings in spring, with bottom heat for both.


Zone 9.

Forsythia      Frankenia