Botanical Name: Fouquieria splendens
Species: F. splendens
Synonyms: Fouquieria spinosa Torr. Idria columnaria Kellogg
Common Names:Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Candlewood, Slimwood, Desert coral, Jacob’s staff, Jacob cactus, and Vine cactus
Habitat: Fouquieria splendens is native to Mesoamerica. Southwestern United States and northern Mexico It grows in arid, desert places. Dry, rocky hills, on slopes, plains and washes. Soils abundant of limestone, well aerated and also relatively warm. In the drier an lower part of its areal the soil is more sandy and loose.
Fouquieria splendens is a deciduous Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a medium rate. It is a semi-succulent desert plant, It is is more closely related to tea and blueberries than to cactuses. For much of the year, the plant appears to be an arrangement of large spiny dead sticks, although closer examination reveals that the stems are partly green. With rainfall, the plant quickly becomes lush with small (2–4 cm), ovate leaves, which may remain for weeks or even months.
Individual stems may reach a diameter of 5 cm at the base, and the plant may grow to a height of 10 m (33 ft). The plant branches very heavily at its base, but above that, the branches are pole-like and rarely divide further. Specimens in cultivation may not exhibit any secondary branches. The leaf stalks harden into blunt spines, and new leaves sprout from the base of the spine.
The bright crimson flowers appear especially after rainfall in spring, summer, and occasionally fall. Flowers are clustered indeterminately at the tips of each mature stem. Individual flowers are mildly zygomorphic and are pollinated by hummingbirds and native carpenter bees.
An ocotillo in spring bloom on Pinyon Wash Road in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California
Ocotillo can be planted year-round with care. Ideal plants have been grown in pots from stem cuttings and from seed. Transplanting large bare-root plants has marginal success. They should be planted to the original growing depth and, as with cacti, in their original directional orientation: the original south side of the plant, which has become more heat- and sunlight-resistant, should again face the brighter, hotter southern direction. If their direction is not marked, success is again limited.
Edible Portion: Flowers – drink, Seeds, Flowers – nectar. The flowers are soaked in water overnight and used as a drink. This is sometimes mixed with other juices. Flowers are collected, dried, and used as a tea. The capsules and flowers can be eaten raw or cooked and have a tangy flavour. The parched seeds are ground into flour and used for cakes.
A fresh bark tincture can be made from the bark useful for fluid congestion. A water bath containing crushed flowers or roots has been used to relieve fatigue. Native Americans place the flowers and roots over fresh wounds to slow bleeding. Also used to alleviate coughing, achy limbs, varicose veins, urinary tract infections, cervical varicosities, and benign prostate growths.
Poles as a fencing material. Often root to form a living fence. Ocotillo branches have been used for canes or walking sticks. Attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds. Pot plant. Indoor plant. A good specimen, hedge or container plant.
Known Hazards: Spines or sharp edges.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.