Fouquieria: Ocotillo Family

You will see this glorious plant around our area, especially near Bisbee where soil rich in ore seems to create perfect conditions to allow whole hillsides of Ocotillo to flourish.

Its tall stately appearance can enhance a Southwestern yard, consideration should be given to planting sites since the ocotillo can attain a height as tall as a tree. When sufficient moisture is absorbed by this plant, heavy red-orange blossoms dangle at the end of the long stems. The short-lived primary leaves become thorns.

You can, with the property owner's permission, transplant the cactus to your yard for landscaping. However, since it is a native species, a permit must be obtained from the Department of Agriculture*. A per plant fee and a specific date for the transfer is required.

After realizing we intended to build a fence with the ocotillo, the assistant at the Department of Agriculture suggested we might contact a man in Douglas who hauls truckloads of ocotillo from Mexico. The ocotillo comes in 5' lengths, wired together, and it is 7' high. It's thornless, too! All you do is place it in a trench and stabilize it. Our ocotillo fence adds so much class to our backyard garden. It effectively stops the rabbits and slows down bird damage. It also serves as an attractive wind break, and is an absolutely naturally beautiful fence. Or perhaps a ramada with the roof of ocotillo which would allow the sunlight to filter down or an ocotillo corral to hold your pets may be a natural choice for you.

(*For more information on obtaining ocotillo, contact Kathy Wurtz at the AZ Dept. of Agriculture, P.O. Box 1168, Douglas, AZ 85608 - Tel. (520) 364-5477.)

Barbara Kishbaugh
June, 1992