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Fouquieria splendens

Fouquieria splendens Engelm.

Fouquieria splendens Engelm. ssp. splendens

Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderEricalesTea, persimmon, blueberry, Brazil nut, azalea, many others
FamilyFouquieriaceaeNamed for Pierre Éloi Fouquier (1776-1850), a French physician, professor of medicine and naturalist
GenusFouquieriaNamed for Pierre Éloi Fouquier (1776-1850), a French physician, professor of medicine and naturalist
Speciessplendens“Splendid”

About plant names...

Ocotillos spend much of their time looking like giant dead rosebushes, but they’re just biding their time. Given some moisture, they sprout large numbers of tiny leaves and beautiful stark red flowers. They are native to the Mojave and Colorado deserts, the southwestern US, Baja California, and Sonora Mexico, at elevations below 5000' (1.5 km).

Ocotillos have near doppelgängers called Madagascar ocotillo. These closely similar plants are an example of convergent evolution, where unrelated plants sometimes evolve to fill identical ecological niches in different locations. But you won’t confuse them, since, as you have probably guessed, Madagascar ocotillo grows only in Madagascar.

Identification: Ocotillo (pronounced awk-oh-TEE-oh) is a collection of tall, thin, unbranched stalks up to 20' (6.1 m) high, facing mostly upward but sometimes looking bowed as if bowing to the wind. The branches have thorns about ½-1" (1.3-2.5 cm) long, and sometimes have tiny leaves. Flowers, in clusters about 10" (25 cm) long, and fruits appear near the top. Ocotillo’s size and shape is unmistakable. It is found in association with mesquite, creosotebush, paloverde, and ceniza.

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

Photo by David Corby

Online References:

Fouquieria splendens at George and Audrey DeLange's Arizona wildflower site

Fouquieria splendens on Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness

Fouquieria splendens on Desert-tropicals.com

Fouquieria splendens on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

Fouquieria splendens at the Vanderbilt University Bioimages web site

Fouquieria splendens on Wikipedia

Fouquieria splendens as Compiled by the Master Gardeners of the University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension

Fouquieria splendens at Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert

Fouquieria splendens from the Jepson Manual

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 5 × 8" (13 × 19 cm)

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 4½ × 7" (11 × 17 cm)

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

Black-throated Sparrow · 5/24/2009 · Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ ID is uncertain

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA

Fouquieria splendens description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

5/24/2009 · Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ
≈ 3 × 4½' (94 × 141 cm)

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

5/10/2014 · American Southwest (AZ or TX) · By Jacquelyn Boyt

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

2/17/2007 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 33 × 31" (84 × 78 cm)

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

5/24/2009 · Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ
≈ 4½ × 6½' (1.4 × 2 m)

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

5/24/2009 · Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ
≈ 25 × 37" (62 × 93 cm)

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob’s Staff, Vine Cactus)

2/17/2007 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA

Range:

About this map...