Scientific Name: Fouquieria splendens
Alternate Common Names: coachwhip, candlewood, vine cactus, Jacob’s staff, melhog (Oʼodham)
Native Range: Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts of the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico
Attracts: hummingbirds, butterflies
Plant Type: woody shrub
Flower Colors: red
Bloom period: February-June
Mature Size (w x h): 20′ x 33′ (6 x 10 m)
Hardiness: 0°F/-18°C
Water Needs: extremely low
Light: full sun

The spiky wands of Ocotillo look dead for much of the year, growing leaves only during the warmer months in response to rainfall or supplemental watering. The tufts of vermilion blossoms appear between late winter and early summer, depending on temperature, and are visited by hummingbirds, orioles, and carpenter bees. Though often mistaken for cacti, this plant and the other dozen members of its genus are placed in their own family and are most closely related to phloxes and Jacob’s ladders.