In this first of my “Ocotillo Obsession” series, I am featuring my progressive shots of the vibrant ocotillo blooms.
OCOTILLO Fouquieria splendens
Origin of “Ocotillo” — Aztec-derived “ocote” refers to a pine that was used to make torches. Therefore the name “ocotillo” refers to a “torch”!
Imagine a spring day, in the desert . . . and its raining.
Soon enough if you are in Big Bend – aka Chihuahuan desert biosphere – you’ll notice the ocotillos flashing their red tip blooms! Do not hesitate to run after your cameras, because with all wild flora, the blooms are brief. Capture them while you can.
Annually ocotillos go dormant in between rainy periods, shedding their leaves and new leaves forming with the rains. Leaves are then surfacing several times a year, but blooms only occur in the spring and summer rains.
I have been lucky to recall three blooms in one year in Big Bend. I am a dramatic person, so I cannot help but personify my desert. Seeing the ocotillo branches as graceful limbs, so full of yearning and reverence for their sky. Tragic characters in a potential desert fable, land locked for eternity while their object of desire is in the stars or shining brightly in the glorious desert sun. Rain is a token for their dedication from their beloved, from their sky. Sure I am truly silly, but it makes my long bumpy drive down my desert mountain so much more entertaining.
How about a more biological view of spring in the desert?
“Water is life” and is especially striking time in the desert when the rains come. Every living thing so eager to absorb every drop possible, making efficient use for growth and procreation. Cacti plump to amazing proportions, toads burrow towards the surface, flocks of birds and swarms of winged insects respond to the call for pollination. Rain brings a flurry of activity. The more plentiful the rain, the lengthier the activity. Significant rain brings the long-awaited ocotillo blooms pollinated by hummingbirds, bees, and foraging birds.
I hope you enjoy my “Ocotillo Obsession!”
I hope you enjoyed my progressive captures of our wild ocotillo. I started my “Ocotillo Obsession” series with its lovely blooms in an attempt to ignite your interest in my most favorite desert flora. There is so much more to know and learn about this unique species and I hope you join me on my series.
If you are keen on desert flora in West Texas, here are titles that I find invaluable available at:
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