Posts Tagged ‘spring’

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Ocotillos and Verdins

April 23, 2012

This has been a banner year for ocotillos in the Sonoran desert. They started blooming a couple of weeks ago, and have erupted into full orange color. That’s Fouquieria splendens, for all you science types!

Their nectar attracts a variety of insects, making them a favored landing spot for the small olive yellow birds, the verdins (Auriparus flaviceps.) Look for verdins visiting all kinds of flowering plants throughout the summer and fall.

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Leafing again: the strange case of the ocotillo

August 6, 2010

One of the odder native residents of the Sonoran desert is the ocotillo bush. It typically consists of several spindly branches, vertically striped and spiny, up to 20 feet tall, that are leafless for long periods, only to sprout thick lines of small leaves within a few days after a rain.

Ocotillo branches with few leaves

Ocotillo branches with few leaves

Its desert adaptation of dropping leaves and playing possum is so complete that ocotillo plants for sale, in their leafless phase, with their branches tied in a bundle and roots bare, look thoroughly dead.

Ocotillo branches with many leaves

Ocotillo branches with many leaves


In the spring, they produce numerous red tubular blossoms at the ends of the branches that attract insects and birds of many species. They make great landscape plants because of their sparse sculptural look, and extremely low water requirements, and striking seasonal changes.

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Spring begins in the Sonoran Desert

March 20, 2008

Desert Wildflowers

Tour images of the desert in spring.
Early spring in Sonoran Desert mountains.