Fouquieria splendens Engelm. ssp. splendens

Fouquieriaceae (Ocotillo Family)


Ocotillo is a tall, stout shrub with many stiff, spiny stems rising from the base, each of which can be simple or few-branched.  It can grow to as tall as 20' and the stems are leafless for much of the year, producing masses of leaves usually only after a rainy period.  The leaves are somewhat fleshy, oblong to obovate. There are primary leaves, soon deciduous, whose petioles develop into the spines, and clusters of secondary leaves appear in the axils of the spines after rainfall, and this may happen several times in the course of a year.  The showy, bright crimson flowers are held in an elongated terminal cluster and contain 5 sepals and 5 united petals forming a tubular corolla with 10-17 exserted stamens.  Ocotillo is common in the Colorado Desert, where it is in fact one of the botanical indicators of that desert, but also in the s.e. Mojave Desert, blooming from March to July. These pictures were taken in the southern part of Joshua Tree National Park.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Fouquieria 2) splendens.
Pronunciation: foo-kwee-ER-ee-a SPLEN-dens.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.



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