Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Ocotillo Y (why not?)

with 14 comments

Leafy Ocotillo Y 1831

On September 29th at Lost Dutchman State Park outside Phoenix I photographed this ocotillo, Fouquieria splendens. Recent heavy rains had caused these spindly plants of the Sonoran Desert to put out a dense covering of leaves to do some photosynthesis while the photosynthesizing was good, which is to say before the usual drought of the desert set back in and the plants would shed their briefly used leaves as quickly as they’d put them on.

If you’d like a reminder of what the bright red flowers of ocotillo look like, you can check out a post from west Texas this past spring. Notice how the ocotillo in that earlier photograph didn’t have a single leaf on its dry branches, but that didn’t stop it from putting out flowers.


This is another entry from the saw (as in the past tense of see) part of the see-saw that’s been bouncing back and forth between pictures from my trip to the American Southwest in late September and more-recent pictures showing what’s been going on in Austin.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 24, 2014 at 5:39 AM

14 Responses

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  1. Are you going to continue with the other letters of the alphabet? Ocotillos are very cool plants. I say that only seeing them in a desert setting in a local greenhouse.

    Steve Gingold

    November 24, 2014 at 6:40 AM

    • O G, I C U R A J. (That’s what the man said to the blue bird he encountered.) But no, as I sit here drinking my morning T, I think I’ll not B doing the other letters, OK?

      From the greenhouse may you get to the desert.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2014 at 7:35 AM

  2. Opportunity knocks and ocotillo answers with a flush of leaves. Well done, nature. I like those red flower tips.

    Jim in IA

    November 24, 2014 at 7:15 AM

    • Well said in saying “Well done, nature.” I saw only a few ocotillo flowers in Arizona but somehow never photographed any. Guess I’ll have to go back.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2014 at 7:38 AM

  3. Rick, I subscribe to Steve’s blog. Some interesting things and you get a post every day!



    Tom Lebsack

    November 24, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    • Yes, if you’re interested in nature photography and native plants, this is a happy place to be.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2014 at 7:56 AM

  4. Interesting photo…I love the complexity of the subject and the lighting is just perfect.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    November 25, 2014 at 1:35 AM

    • I took more-traditional pictures of ocotillo as well, but I decided to show the most abstract one here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 25, 2014 at 7:42 AM

  5. You reminded me of the old *saw* Auntie Ingeborg taught us: ‘YY U R YY U B I C U R YY 4 me!’ (“Too wise…”). Ha! Nifty plant, that, and a good laugh-inducing post with it. 😀


    December 1, 2014 at 7:11 PM

    • I know that one. Kids used to write such things in autograph books, as I expect you remember. Happy laughter 2 U.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 1, 2014 at 8:44 PM

      • Yep, I remember autograph books. I think I lost interest in them about the time I learned from somebody that there was such a thing as a Slam Book, too. Sheesh. Not in *my* book, thanks very much! 😉


        December 2, 2014 at 5:44 PM

  6. I took one look at Ocotillo Y and immediately thought — YO. That’s not “yo” as an expression, of course, but the YO Ranch, whose lands I recently crossed. I had hoped that the Ocotillo Y might have found a home on YO lands, but it seems not. At least, it’s not reported. Edwards County edges right up to the plant’s range, but doesn’t have it listed.


    December 1, 2014 at 7:48 PM

    • When I saw your YO, I didn’t think about the English exclamation but rather the Spanish word for ‘I’. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of the YO Ranch. I looked at the USDA map and I saw what you mean about the reported range of ocotillo stopping just west of Edwards County. Species do spread, so who knows….

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 1, 2014 at 9:58 PM

  7. […] area on Interstate 10. This time it was the one above Las Cruces, New Mexico, and I photographed an ocotillo (Fouquiera splendens) against a backdrop of the Organ Mountains at sundown. You can see that the […]

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