is a curious and unique desert plant of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Common names include Ocotillo, Coachwhip, Jacob's staff, and Vine Cactus, although it is not a true cactus. For much of the year, the plant appears to be an arrangement of large spiny dead sticks, although closer examination reveals that the stems are partly green. With rainfall the plant quickly becomes lush with small (2-4 cm) ovate leaves, which may remain for weeks or even months.
The stems may reach a diameter of 5 cm at the base, and the plant may grow to a height of 10 m. The plant branches very heavily at its base, but above that the branches are pole-like and only infrequently divide further, and specimens in cultivation may not exhibit any secondary branches. The leaf stalks harden into blunt spines, and new leaves sprout from the base of the spine. The bright red flowers appear in spring and summer, occurring as a group of small tube shapes at the tip of the stem. They are pollinated by hummingbirds or carpenter bees.
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