Main site sections:
Plants section links:

Location

  • Safari Park

Bloom time (approximate):

  • Spring

Gardens

Plants: Species

Ocotillo: Ocotillo and Adam's Tree or Mexican Ocotillo Fouquieria splendens and Fouquieria diguetii

FAMILY: FOUQUIERIACEAE (Ocotillo Family)

The flame red flowers of the ocotillo are often the first sign of spring in the desert, and in the Safari Park's Baja Garden. If you have trouble distinguishing the ocotillo Fouquieria splendens from the Adam's tree, or Mexican ocotillo Fouquieria diguetii, you're not alone. The two species look very much alike, with their whip-like stems curving and fanning out from the base. And to make things more challenging, they often grow in the same places in their native Mexican and American southwest habitat. Here's the trick: the Adam's tree tends to have thicker branches and a short, stubby trunk, while the ocotillo (pictured above) tends to grow taller and has flower spikes up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) longer than those of the Adam's tree.

This tall, scrawny plant has whip-like branches that start leafing out right after it rains. When the tubular flowers of both these plants bloom in the spring, it's easy to see why they're sometimes called the flaming sword.