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Ocotillo ( Fouquieria splendens )
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Fouquieriaceae
DC. [1]
Genus: Fouquieria
Kunth [2]

See text


Idria Kellogg [2]

Fouquieria is a genus of 11 species of desert plants, the sole genus in the family Fouquieriaceae. The genus includes the ocotillo ( F. splendens ) and the boojum tree or cirio ( F. columnaris ). They have semisucculent stems with thinner spikes projecting from them, with leaves on the bases spikes. They are unrelated to cacti and do not look much like them; their stems are proportionately thinner than cactus stems and their leaves are larger.


These plants are native to northern Mexico and the bordering US states of Arizona, southern California, New Mexico, and parts of southwestern Texas, favoring low, arid hillsides.

The Seri people identify three species of Fouquieria in their area of Mexico: jomjéeziz or xomjéeziz (F. splendens), jomjéeziz caacöl (F. diguetii, Baja California tree ocotillo), and cototaj (F. columnaris, boojum). [3]

The genus is named after French physician Pierre Fouquier (1776-1850).

The spines of Fouquieria develop in an unusual way, from a woody thickening on the outer (lower) side of the leaf petiole, which remains after the leaf blade and most of the petiole separate and fall from the plant. [4]


Fouquieria species do not have a particularly close resemblance to any other sort of plants; genetic evidence has shown they belong in the Ericales. Prior to this, they had been variously placed in the Violales or their own order, Fouquieriales.


Fouquieria shrevei is endemic to the Cuatro Ciénegas basin in Mexico, and is unusual in possessing vertical resinous wax bands on the stems, and exhibits gypsophily, the ability to grow on soils with a high concentration of gypsum. It has aromatic white flowers and is presumed to be moth-pollinated. Other species in the genus with orange or red flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds or carpenter bees. Fouquieria diguetii is host to a peacock mite, Tuckerella eloisae .


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  1. Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 161 (2): 105–121. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x .
  2. 1 2 "Genus: Fouquieria Kunth". Germplasm Resources Information Network: Fouquieria. 1996-09-17. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
  3. Felger, Richard S.; Mary B. Moser (1985). People of the Desert and Sea: Ethnobotany of the Seri Indians . Tucson: University of Arizona Press. ISBN   978-0-8165-0818-1.
  4. W. J. Robinson, 1904. The spines of Fouquieria. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 31(1):45–50
  5. "Species Records of Fouquieria". Germplasm Resources Information Network: Fouquieria. Retrieved 2011-04-30.