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Plants: Species

Boojum Tree, Cirio Fouquieria columnaris


According to Lewis Carroll's poem "The Hunting of the Snark," a boojum is a mysterious form the snark takes, and anyone who looks at it disappears. The boojums of Baja aren't so sinister, but these rare plants do look as mythical and bizarre as their name suggests. Outside of Lewis Carroll's imagination, the boojum Foquieria columnaris is a tree-like succulent with a water-storing trunk and an array of spiny branches with tiny leaves. It is also known as the cirio , because it resembles the altar candles of the same name used in Spanish missions.

Boojums can reach heights of 50 to 60 feet (15 to 18 meters) and live to about 250 years old. During dry seasons they remain leafless but then take advantage of rainfall to sprout a topknot of golden seedpods.

The Wild Animal Park's Baja Garden has more than 200 of these otherworldly plants, making this the largest collection of boojums outside their native habitat.