Monday, April 06, 2009


This is the Ocotillo (oh-coh-tee-oh) plant native to Baja, the Mojave Desert, Mexico and the Southwest in general and down through Texas. To me it has always looked like it should be in a giant aquarium with whale sized gold fish swimming around it. Be that as it may, this intriguing bush/plant/thing is quite pretty when it's all bloomed out. Or even just leafy green.

Most of the year the ocotillo is a tall (can grow up to 20 feet!), fanning group of deep brownish gray stick like (cane) branches, until the rains come in spring. (The one in this photo was easily twice my height!) When the rains come it turns a deep beautiful shade of green and soon gives off thousands of little oval leaves and thousands more of blooms that turn from white to red and orange. As soon as the ground dries up the leaves fall off! The blooms, however, can come with or without the leaves, they just need a tiny bit of rain and they're ready to party! Really cool.

Down the main street of our small town we have these planted in the medians. Row after row of "fish tank plants" that are fabulous during the spring.

I'm thinking I just may plant some in the front yard, can you imagine these lined up to make a fence?

add to sk*rt


Kathy @ Real Mom, Real Life said...

I grew up around this stuff. It is all over the Arizona Desert. But I never saw it like you do... Maybe if I spent some time looking at nature I would see these plants differently.

I love the sun coming through on this last picture... amazing!

LeaAnne said...

Beautiful! it reminds me a bit of the Crocosmia/Montbretia that grows here in the PNW..the beadyness of it ;)
As always you have a Beautiful touch with flowers!

Robyn said...

I love Ocotillos. They are my favorite desert plant. Just driving to AZ in the next few weeks will be a delight to see them in full bloom! I think they'd be great in your yard as fencing. Natural barriers are always better than plain old fencing.

Boy Mom said...

I wonder if they would survive in Utah county? I just love odd plants, especially desert plants.

S'mee said...

Thanks Kathy! At first (for the first 20 or so years!!!) I didn't like them much either. I think I have "assimilated" as "resisting them was futile!".

LeaAnne, I'll have to take your word for it! Thanks! : )

Robyn, I have finally "joined 'em."

Not sure Boy Mom. From what I've read they don't go to far north, but you can google them to find out. : )