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(Ocotillo family)


• Medicinal / Folk-medicinal aspects: •
• Adverse effects: These unusual spiny shrubs are capable of inflicting mechanical injury. •
• Veterinary aspects: •

This is a family of eleven species of woody or succulent xeromorphic spiny shrubs found in south-western North America. The family comprises a single genus, namely Fouquieria Kunth (Mabberley 2008).

Fouquieria Kunth

Some species are rare and endangered in the wild but can be found in some specialist collections of desert plants. All have sharp thorns scattered along their branches (Gram 2005). Menninger (1967), referring to unnamed species of Fouquieria, noted that the plants form clumps of thorny, arching, snaky stems.

Fouquieria columnaris Kellogg ex Curran
[syn. Idria columnaris Kellogg]
Boojum Tree, Cirio, Coachwhip, Jacob's Staff, Vine Cactus, Wax Candle

Menninger (1967) noted that the trunks and branches of Idria columnaris are covered with short, thorny branchlets. The thorns are derived from leaf petioles (Humphrey 1935).

Fouquieria splendens Engelm.
Candlewood, Coach Whip, Ocotillo

Fouquieria splendens is planted as a spiny hedge (Mabberley 2008).


  • Gram J (2005) The weird and wonderful boojum tree, Fouquieria columnaris, and its relatives. The Jumping Cholla (Jun 30): [archived online article] https://web.archive.org/web/20060721034342/http://www.huntingtonbotanical.org:80/Desert/Cholla/june05/June05.htm ; accessed April 2019 [url]
  • Humphrey RR (1935) A study of Idria columnaris and Fouquieria splendens. American Journal of Botany 22(2): 184-207 [doi] [doi-2] [url] [url-2]
  • Mabberley DJ (2008) Mabberley's Plant-Book. A portable dictionary of plants, their classification and uses, 3rd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press [WorldCat]
  • Menninger EA (1967) Fantastic Trees. New York: Viking Press [WorldCat] [url]

Richard J. Schmidt

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