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Common Name:


Scientific Name:

Fouquieria splendens

Family Name:



Ocotillo is a classic West Texas large shrub or multi-stem small tree. The plant is sometimes known as Albarda or Coach Whip. The sparsely branched tubular Cholla-like stems sucker from the crown creating a stiffly upright cylinder of wickedly spiny stems. Small green leaves occur during moist warm seasons. Windblown sprays of red flowers are borne in spring. Effective barrier, accent, xeriscape, or naturalizing plant for West Texas.

Plant Habit or Use:

Large shrub, small tree



Flower Color:


Blooming Period:


Fruit Characteristics:

Capsules, not ornamental


very site responsive, 5 ft to 15 ft tall


3 ft to 6 ft

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: High Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: Low Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Low Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: Low Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Low Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

Firewise Index

Explanation of the Firewise Index numerical value

USDA Hardiness Zones:

7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas Region H - Rio Grande Valley
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Needs absolutely well drained soils; tolerant of as little as 5 inch to 6 inch of rainfall per year;not well adapted to Central and East Texas; very slower grower, threatened in the wild due to unscrupulous harvesting.
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A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.