Ocotillo

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SKU AWF396SPOS
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Fouquieria splendens Engelmann 

In crossing the desert by train over the southern route to Califor- 
nia, none of the new and curious plants observed is stranger than the 
ocotillo. A number of slender rod-like stems eight or ten feet long 
spring from a single root, rigidly spreading outward and upward. 
They are dull greenish gray in color, and are armed with strong sharp 
thorns half an inch long. When the rains come in spring, the bare 
stems show signs of life, small green leaves appearing along them, 
while a mass of buds develops on a short stem at the end, spreading 
like a fish tail. Soon the buds open and the heavy bunches of flowers 
wave slowly back and forth in the desert wind. The Mexicans form 
paling fences about their dooryards by planting these stems close to- 
gether in the ground and fastening them with wire. They some- 
times take root and form a living fence, an effective barrier against 
most animals. This curious plant belongs to a small group known as 
the Ocotillo Family, which is nearly confined to the dry regions of 
Mexico. 

Ocotillo has a wide range, from western Texas to southern Cali- 
fornia and over northern Mexico. 

The specimen painted was obtained near Superior, Arizona.
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