Definition of ocotillo in US English:



  • A spiny scarlet-flowered desert shrub of the southwestern US and Mexico, which is sometimes planted as a hedge.

    Fouquieria splendens, family Fouquieriaceae

    • ‘We photograph cholla and saguaro and ocotillo.’
    • ‘Twining snapdragon winds through the Calhoun's ocotillo fence and license plate collection.’
    • ‘Though traditional ramadas were made with mesquite poles, ocotillo canes, and saguaro, these materials are not readily available in nurseries.’
    • ‘While cactus flowers have many petals, the ocotillo's red flowers have only five, united at their base to form a tube.’
    • ‘The spindly, 15-foottall branches of the ocotillo, bare and dead-looking things under dry conditions, are fully leafed out.’
    • ‘He used barbed wire to attach crossbeams to posts and bailing wire to lash ocotillo canes to the crossbeams.’
    • ‘As we began descending from mountains into the desert, I saw agaves, cacti, and ocotillo thriving on the dry, rugged slopes.’
    • ‘Flanked by ocotillo and prickly pear, you'll make an easy half-day ride to the Telephone Canyon backcountry campsite.’
    • ‘The most common shrubs are creosote bush, ocotillo, and bur sage.’
    • ‘Yet in another area hit by a recent heavy rain, the ironwood trees and the spiny ocotillos are flush with new green leaves.’
    • ‘You'll traverse a series of high valleys, ravines, and washes filled with a variety of plants, including purple barrel cactus and stands of ocotillos.’
    • ‘But the bucks had swapped places in the ocotillos.’


Mid 19th century: via American Spanish (diminutive form) from Nahuatl ocotl ‘torch’.