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Fouquieria columnaris

Fouquieria columnaris, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Ordo: Ericales
Familia: Fouquieriaceae
Genus: Fouquieria
Species: Fouquieria columnaris

Fouquieria columnaris (Kellogg) Kellogg ex Curran

Idria columnaria Kellogg, Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. 2: 34 (1863).
Fouquieria gigantea Orcutt, W. Amer. Sci. 2: 48 (1886).

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Northern America
Regional: Mexico
Mexico Northwest

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Kellogg, A., 1885. Bulletin of the California Academy of Sciences 1(3):133.

Additional references

Govaerts, R.H.A. 2001. World Checklist of Seed Plants Database in ACCESS E-F: 1-50919. [unavailable to the public] Reference page.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Fouquieria columnaris in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jul 07. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Fouquieria columnaris in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jul 07. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Fouquieria columnaris. Published online. Accessed: Jul 07 2021. 2021. Fouquieria columnaris. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jul 07.
Hassler, M. 2021. Fouquieria columnaris. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2021. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jul 07. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2021. World Plants. Synonymic Checklist and Distribution of the World Flora. . Fouquieria columnaris. Accessed: 07 Jul 2021.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Fouquieria columnaris in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 09-Oct-10.

Vernacular names
English: Boojum tree
suomi: Pylväsokotillo

Fouquieria columnaris, the Boojum tree or cirio (American Spanish: [ˈsiɾjo]) is a tree in the ocotillo family,(Fouquieriaceae) whose other members include the ocotillos. Some taxonomists place it in the separate genus Idria. It is nearly endemic to the Baja California Peninsula (both the northern and southern states), with only a small population in the Sierra Bacha of Sonora, Mexico. The plant's English name, Boojum, was given by Godfrey Sykes of the Desert Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona and is taken from Lewis Carroll's poem "The Hunting of the Snark".[2][3][4]


The peculiar distribution pattern of the mainland boojums has led Mexican botanists to conclude that they were probably transplanted to the mainland by the indigenous Seri people, who lived in this area and still live on communal property south of this location[where?]. The Seri name for this plant is cototaj Seri pronunciation: [ˈkototax].[5] In Seri belief, touching this plant will cause strong winds to blow (an undesirable state). Given this belief, the hypothesis that the Seri people transplanted it is doubtful.[3]

The Fouquieria columnaris trunk is up to 24 inches (61 centimeters) thick, off-white in color, with few or no major branches and with numerous thin, twiggy branches sticking out at right angles, all covered with small leaves 1.5–4 cm (0.59–1.57 in) long. They can grow to a height of 20 meters (almost 70 feet), but the tallest, in Montevideo Valley between Mission San Borja and Bahia de los Angeles is 86.5 feet (26.4 meters) in height,[6] the second tallest succulent after Euphorbia ampliphylla. The flowers bloom in summer and autumn; they occur in short racemes, and are creamy yellow with a honey scent.[7] It is among the slowest growing trees. At fifty years of age, it may be only five feet (1.5 meters) tall, and thereafter averages twelve inches (thirty centimeters) every ten years.[8]

The Plant List, Fouquieria columnaris (C.Kellogg) Kellogg ex Curran
Robert R. Humphrey. The Boojum and its Home
Felger, Richard; Mary B. Moser. (1985). People of the desert and sea: ethnobotany of the Seri Indians. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Carroll, Lewis, 1876. The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits complete text of poem
Moser, Mary B.; Stephen A. Marlett (2005). Comcáac quih yaza quih hant ihíip hac: Diccionario seri–español–inglés (PDF) (in Spanish and English). Hermosillo, Sonora: Universidad de Sonora and Plaza y Valdés Editores.
Humphrey, Robert E. (September–October 1991). "Montevideo Valley and its Tallest Recorded Cirio". Cactus and Succulent Journal. 63 (5): 239–240.
Shreve, F. & I. L. Wiggins. 1964. Vegetation and Flora of the Sonoran Desert. 2 vols. Stanford University Press, Stanford
anonymous (N.D.). "Baja California, Mexico". Retrieved September 4, 2007

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