Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Fouquieria splendens, Ocotillo

Fouquieria splendens, Ocotillo, Southwest Desert FloraFouquieria splendens, Ocotillo, Southwest Desert FloraFouquieria splendens, Ocotillo, Southwest Desert FloraFouquieria splendens, When the stems on the plants begin to grow, the new growth includes both a spine and a small leaflet. OcotilloFouquieria splendens, Ocotillo, Southwest Desert Flora

Scientific Name: Fouquieria splendens
Common Name: Ocotillo
Also Called: Candlewood, Coach Whip, Devil's Walking Stick (Spanish: Ocotillo, Albarda, Barda, Ocotillo del Corral)
Family: Fouquieriaceae, Ocotillo Family
Synonyms: (Fouquieria splendens  subsp. splendens)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 20 feet or more.
Growth Form: Tree/shrub; erect, woody, thorny with sharp spines, multiple unbranched stems originating at base, stems described as "whip-like".
Leaves: Green, bright green; obovate, drought and temperature deciduous, petioles present on first time leaf only, leaf petioles develop into a spine after the leaf drops; secondary leaves without petiole from axil below spine.
Flower Color: Red, bright red; flower is tubular shaped, flowers in terminal clusters on tips of branches, inflorescence is a panicle.
Flowering Season: April to June or later.
Elevation: Under 5,000.

Habitat Preferences: Shallow, well-drained soils of dry rocky slopes, mesas and bajadas or alluvial fans.

Recorded Range: Fouquieria splendens is relatively rare in the United States. It is native to Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. In Arizona it is found throughout much of the state.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Fouquieria splendens.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.

Threatened/Endangered Information: the State of Arizona has listed Coach Whip (Fouquieria splendens) as Salvage restricted.

Genus Information: 1 species of Fouquieria in the southwest and the United States.

Comments: The Ocotillo is a thorny shrub or tree common in preferred habitats. It is a dominant or co-dominant species in certain Sonoran and Chihuahuan desert plant associations. The Ocotillo is a classic iconic plant often profiled in photographs of southwestern sunsets.

Ethno-Herbalist: Southern California Ethnobotany; Ethnobotany of Southern California Native Plants: Ocotillo, Fouquieria splendens.

Fouquieria splendens has been used for food by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
Hualapai Drug, Orthopedic Aid, Roots used in a soothing bath for swollen feet.
Hualapai Fiber, Building Material, Branches used to construct huts.
Cahuilla Fiber, Building Material, Wood used to make fences to prevent rodents from attacking cultivated crops.
Papago Other, Ceremonial Items, Flexible rods used as the basis of ceremonial structures representing clouds or mountains.
Pima Fiber, Building Material, Stalks freed from thorns, bound together with rawhide or wire and used as shelves.
Yavapai Food, Snack Food, Flowers sucked by children for nectar.
See ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

Date Profile Completed: 5/5/2015, rev. 07/22/2015, updated 09/23/2016, updated format 10/12/2017
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet [accessed: 5/5/2015]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
Mason, Jr. C. T., Fouquieriaceae, JANAS 32(1): 55-56. 1999.Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science and Canotia
1993, The Jepson Manual, as F. splendens subsp. splendens. Citation: (accessed 5/5/2015),4360,0,4361
Matthews, Robin F. 1994. Fouquieria splendens. In: USDA Forest Service Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations,