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Ocotillo

Fouquieria splendens

Other common name(s):

Devil's Walking Stick, Candlewood

Family:

Fouquieriaceae (Ocotillo Family)

Plant Ecoregion Distribution Map

Chihuahuan Deserts
Chihuahuan Basins and Playas, Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands, Chihuahuan Montane Woodlands, Low Mountains and Bajadas, Stockton Plateau

Plant Characteristics

Growth Form

Shrub

Height

6
to
20
ft.

Spread

3
to
5
ft.

Leaf Retention

Evergreen

Lifespan

Perennial

Habitat and Care Requirements

Soil Type(s)

Sand, Gravelly, Rocky, Limestone, Dry

Light Requirement

Part Shade

Water Requirement

Low

Native Habitat

Grassland

Bloom and Attraction

Bloom Color

Red, Orange

Bloom Season

Spring, Summer

Seasonal Interest

Seeds, Nectar, Pollen, Flowers

Wildlife Benefit

Birds, Small Mammals, Nectar Insects, Hummingbirds, Bees

Maintenance

Drought tolerant. Will bloom only in dry air. Looks best as a specimen plant.. Very dependent on good drainage. Makes a good security fence due to spines. Propagation: Seed, Cuttings.

Comments

Blooms March-July. Ocotillo is a spiny shrub with many long, unbranched green stems growing from the base. Stems are leafless most of the year, mostly appearing after rain. Red tubular flowers at tip of each branch. The name Ocotillo means “little pine” in Mexican Spanish. Like a pine (ocote), its stalks produce a resin. Provides nectar for hummingbirds, bees and other nectar insects. Seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals
Previous Scientific Name(s): Synonym(s): Fouquieria splendens ssp. splendens

References

1) Griffith, Bryce, Omernick & Rodgers (2007). Ecoregions of Texas. 2) http://bonap.net/TDC/Image/Map?taxonType=Species&taxonId=12172&lcationType=County&mapType=Normal. 3) https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=FOSP2. 4) https://portal.torcherbaria.org/portal/taxa/index.php?taxon=Fouquieria+splendens&formsubmit=Search+Terms. 5) Wasowski, Sally and Wasowski, Andy, Native Texas Plants, Landscaping Region by Region, 1988, 1991, pg 246. 6) Miller, George O., Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas 2nd Ed., 2013, pg 48. 7) https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=502645#null
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About the Region

New Braunfels, the location of our Fall 2024 Symposium, straddles both the Edwards Plateau Ecoregion and the Blackland Prairie ecoregion. Interstate 35 divides the city of New Braunfels; its path through the city closely parallels the boundary of these two ecoregions, with the Edwards Plateau on the west side and the Blackland Prairies region to the east. The Edwards Plateau area is also called the Hill Country; however, this general term covers a much larger area extending farther north. Spring-fed creeks are found throughout the region; deep limestone canyons, rivers, and lakes (reservoirs) are common. Ashe juniper is perhaps the most common woody species found throughout the region. Additional woody species include various species of oak, with live oak (Quercus fusiformis) being the most common. Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) border waterways. This area is well known for its spring wildflower displays, though they may be viewed in spring, late summer, and fall, as well. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, average annual rainfall in the Edwards Plateau ranges from 15 to 34 inches.

The Blackland Prairie extends from the Red River south to San Antonio, bordered on the west by the Edwards Plateau and the Cross Timbers, and on the east by the Post Oak Savannah. Annual rainfall averages 30 to 40 inches, with higher averages to the east. This region is dominated by prairie species. The most common grass species include little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) in the uplands and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in the riparian areas and drainages. Common herbaceous flowering plants include salvias, penstemons, and silphiums. This area has suffered greatly from overgrazing and agricultural use. Few intact areas remain, though many of the plants can be found along county roadsides throughout the region.

Our four host chapters (New Braunfels, Lindheimer, Guadalupe, and the Hill Country chapters) are located in one or both of the ecoregions above. However, the eastern portion of Guadalupe County also falls within the Post Oak Savanna ecoregion. Annual rainfall averages 35 to 45 inches, with higher averages to the east. A wide variety of hardwood trees are found, including several species of oaks, elms, and in the Bastrop area, loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Grasses and forbs dominate in the open savannas, with most common grass being little bluestem. Ranching, agriculture, and fire suppression have allowed woody species to encroach on the once-open savannas.

Source: Wildflowers of Texas by Michael Eason