Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) 6-20 feet

Large ocotillos near Tombstone, AZ

The ocotillo is a drought-tolerant woody shrub that looks like a cactus but actually isn't. A relative of the Boojumtree of Mexico, it is a cluster of spiney, woody sticks that appear bare most of the year. Small leaves appear on the greenish brown stems during rainy seasons. Leaves are dropped during dry spells.

Ocotillo and desert broom

Ocotillo and Desert Broom, Middlemarch Road

In spring bright red flowers appear at the ends of the stems.

Ocotillo flower, USFWS photo by Gary Stolz