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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 Wikimedia.org


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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.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly 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

Plant Habitats

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].

References   More on Edible Uses

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.

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

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PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
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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

References   More on Other Uses

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.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

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

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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Botanical References

Links / References

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