Fouquieria fasciculata is a member of the Fouquieriaceae family, one of only 11 species. The plant can be described as a shrub or small tree, reaching heights from about 4m up to, in some cases, 50m. Fouquieria fasciculata and the whole Fouquieriaceae family are found mainly in the Sonora desert that spreads from the South West of the USA to North Mexico. Fouquieria fasciculata resides within the high altitude canyons of the Metztitlán area in Mexico.
The appearance of the species is unusual, a cross between a cactus and a bonsai tree. The plant grows in similar conditions to cacti, requiring dry arid soils with plenty of sun and has very little dependence on water. The species can survive great climatic pressures being able to function with limited water resources and under substantial heat with a surprising resistance to the cold (-7°C) . The unique appearance of the plant can be attributed to the swollen caudex which can grow up to 60cm in diameter. From the caudex grows woody branches that taper to sharp red spines. The plant can be distinguished from others within its family by its rounded leaves, red spines and white flowers.
F. fasciculata, like many plant species, is suffering due to changes in climatic conditions and habitat. Furthermore, like many in the Fouquieriaceae family the species is subject to over exploitation by the horticulture business and collectors. Due to the unique appearance of the plant and its hardiness, it is a popular species for horticulture both in professional and amateur collections, so much so that they are often entered into gardening competitions. It is this popularity that has seen the species enter the IUCN Red List as well as being protected under appendix I of CITES.
This species is reported as held in 35 ex-situ collections.
CITES, 2015. Checklist of CITES Species: Fouquieria fasciculata. [online]
Nash, G.V., 1903. A Revision of the Family Fouquieriaceae. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, 30(8), pp.449-459.
Bihrmann’s Caudiciforms, 2015. Fouquieria fasciculata. [online]
Fat Plants Information, 2015. Fouquieria Primer. [online]
Explore Life on Earth, 2015. The Fouquieriaceae Page. [online]
Did you know?
Over exploitation of the huarango tree led to ecological devastation and the consequent downfall of a pre-inca civilisation, known as the Nasca.