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Ocotillo

Fouquieria splendens

Details & Attributes


Plant Type(s) Succulent, perennial
Native to Arizona Yes!
Water Needs Low
Sun Full sun
Pollinators Hummingbirds
Has Spines Yes
Size
In relative feet, width by height
10-20' × 5-10'
Freeze Tolerant No
Flowering Season February-May
Flower Color Orange/red
Minimum Temperature Range 10 °F
Leaf Description Small, rounded, sometimes with moisture
Fruit Capsule with papery seeds
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Ethnobotany Blossoms were soaked for a summer drink, a blood purifier and tonic. Seeds were parched and ground into flour for mush or cakes. Papago pressed the nectar out of blossoms, hardened it like rock candy and chewed. Flowers sucked for nectar. Stems used for fences and houses. Apache made a powdered root paste to ease swelling. Gum from the bark was used to wax leather.
Description Another stunning and unusual drought-loving plant, ocotillo is an appropriate choice for landscapes throughout the lower elevation portions of Arizona. Ocotillo is made up of numerous upright to snaking wand-like branches covered in thorns. When given moisture, these plants rapidly put out an abundance of small oval to spear shaped leaves. This can happen within only a couple days after rains. In the late spring (and sometimes at other times of the year), the plants produce a spike of brilliant orange/red tubular blossoms at the tip of each long stem. Blooms will attract hummingbirds and mark the onset of summer. Ocotillo usually grows on rocky slopes and well drained flats, so provide ample drainage when planting. Use as a central specimen in a mixed cactus garden, or plant in a row for a striking visual effect.