Ocotillo Plant


YouTube Video

: Howdy and welcome to the Sonoran Desert! I am here to provide some fun, interesting information about the Ocotillo, or vine cactus. It mostly thrives here in the Sonoran Desert of the southwestern parts of Arizona and also extends into the Chihuahuan desert. Ocotillo have an average life span of 60 years, although some can live well over 100 years! Continue reading through each section to find out more cool facts about this amazing desert dweller!
WHO AM I? I am the O
cotillo cactus, sometimes referred to as vine cactus, Jacob’s staff, and Flaming Sword. I am one of the most easily-identified plants in the Sonoran Desert because of my sprawling stems and beautifully red, tubular flowers. I do not require a lot of water—in fact, overwatering can actually cause me to die! My scientific name is Fouquieria splendens, but please call me ‘Ocotillo’.
WHERE DO I LIVE? I live in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts in the southwestern regions of Arizona, northern Mexico, western Texas, and southern California. I really enjoy a habitat that is open and very rocky. Places that I absolutely love living in include rocky slopes, mesas, washes, and desert grasslands that are well drained.
WHAT DO I EAT? Because I am rooted to the ground and cannot walk around to get my food, I rely on the sun for photosynthesis. Because light is a form of energy, my stems soak up the sun’s rays and turn the light energy into chemical energy like carbon dioxide into sugars. I then use these sugars to keep me alive—much like you have to eat food to stay alive and healthy!
HOW DO I LOOK? Think of my nickname, Flaming Sword, and a picture should come to mind. I have long, sword-like, spiny stems that grow from my short trunk. When I drink enough water, I sprout red flowers that grow at the end of my stems. I bloom between the months of March through June. My stems are quite spiny, to keep animals and people from destroying me. 
HOW DO I REPRODUCE? I rely on other creatures to pollinate me. Some of these wonderful animals include hummingbirds, bees, and orioles. When the hummingbirds come to drink my nectar, they take some of my pollen with them and bring it to the next plant.
FUN FACT ABOUT ME? I am often used as a material for ‘fencing’. My spines keep people and animals out of a yard or from passing through. Another unique feature about me is that I am not a true cactus. After it has rained, I can produce flowers within two days.

Activities! Everyone loves doing activities! Put your creativity thinking hats on and do the activity that goes along with your grade level.

Kindergarten: Draw and color a picture of an Ocotillo plant using the same colors as the ocotillo plant.

First grade: Find a picture of an Ocotillo on the internet with adult supervision and write three facts about the plant.

Second grade: Write a story about an Ocotillo plant making sure to include its habitat, what it eats, and where it lives.

Third grade:

Write a story of an Ocotillo in first person point-of-view.

Alternat activity if you're up to it!

Draw a picture of an Ocotillo plant and use it as your template. Then, do some research about your family and create a family tree using the Ocotillo plant as the tree.














This webpage is broken down into six sections and also provides a fun, interesting fact about the Ocotillo plant. Size, lifespan, and identifying features are included in the webpage breakdown. If students have heard a plant being called "Candlewood", it was the Ocotillo plant that they were getting information on.


Beautifully layed out page that is set in report form about the Ocotillo plant. It also poses two research questions that students can do research on and also discover why this dweller is a gorgeous plant.


This website provides information on how the ocotillo gets food, the benefits it has to other creatures, and more fun interesting facts about the Ocotillo. How you can grow your own, flower color, and how big it can get are also included in this web site.