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Fouquieria splendens - Engelm

Common Name Ocotillo. Coach whip
Family Fouquieriaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards Spines or sharp edges.
Habitats 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.
Range Mesoamerica. Southwestern United States and northern Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Full sun
Fouquieria splendens Ocotillo. Coach whip
Fouquieria splendens Ocotillo. Coach whip
Lupe on


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Fouquieria splendens is a deciduous Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Fouquieria spinosa Torr. Idria columnaria Kellogg


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Seed
Edible Uses:

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 [183].


Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

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.


Our new book Edible Shrubs is now available.

Edible Shrubs provides detailed information, attractively presented, on over 70 shrub species. They have been selected to provide a mix of different plant sizes and growing conditions. Most provide delicious and nutritious fruit, but many also have edible leaves, seeds, flowers, stems or roots, or they yield edible or useful oil.

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Edible Shrubs Book

Other Uses

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.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming


Cultivation details

Experimental Crop  Management: Standard

Climate: warm temperate to tropical. Humidity: arid to semi-arid. Altitude: 0-1500 m. Not a true cactus. Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping - needs desert conditions, excellent drainage, full sun, no extra water. Soil pH requirements: 6.1 (mildly acidic) to 7.8 (mildly alkaline). Carbon Farming Solutions - Cultivation: experimental. Management: standard (Describes the non-destructive management systems that are used in cultivation) [1-1].

Carbon Farming

  • Experimental Crop  Plant breeders are testing these plants to see if they could be domesticated for cultivation, but they are still in an experimental phase. Examples include milkweed and leafy spurge.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.


Temperature Converter

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

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Seed; direct sow outdoors in fall. Woody stem cuttings. Softwood cuttings.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Vine Cactus, Coach-whip, Coachwhip, Slimwood, Desert Coral, Jacob's Staff, Boojum, Candle bush, Candelwood, Jacob cactus, Ocotillo del Coral, Barda, Albarda

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Mexico, North America, USA.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Subject : Fouquieria splendens  
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