oco·​ti·​llo ˌō-kə-ˈtē-(ˌ)yō How to pronounce ocotillo (audio)
plural ocotillos
: a thorny scarlet-flowered candlewood (Fouquieria splendens of the family Fouquieriaceae) of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico

Illustration of ocotillo

Illustration of ocotillo

Examples of ocotillo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Those big fat raindrops kiss the ocotillo, dance among saguaro spines and water our vast herd of lizards. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, 16 Mar. 2023 The mountainous desert region is one highlighted by cactus flowers like the Strawberry Pitaya, the spiny ocotillo shrub, catclaw, desert marigolds, and the area’s namesake bluebonnets. J.d. Simkins, Sunset Magazine, 26 Apr. 2022 An easy half-mile walk on the wide, sandy Latigo Trail enters the preserve’s far west edge, passing under powerlines that curiously mimic look the long, slender stalks of native ocotillo cactus. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, 25 Mar. 2022 Those findings align with the work of Jim Cornett, a consulting ecologist who has been studying ocotillo in the park since 2007. San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Mar. 2022 According to Texas Highways, visitors may also want to head approximately five hours north to pay a visit to Franklin Mountains State Park, home to the ocotillo, yucca, Southwestern barrel cactus, and Chihuahuan fishhook cactus. Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure, 5 Mar. 2022 It’s not uncommon for students at the Bisbee Unified School District to live in Mexico and travel here daily through ports in sprawling valleys dotted by ocotillo. Los Angeles Times, 22 Dec. 2020 There's also the hip year-old hotel Willow House, a cluster of minimalist cubes scattered in a field of ocotillo plants. Christopher Bagley, Condé Nast Traveler, 18 May 2020 Many of us are finding comfort now in remembering the enveloping smell of warm pine on a sunny day or the sight of ocotillo in bloom after a desert rain. Lorraine Berry, Los Angeles Times, 6 Apr. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ocotillo.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Mexican Spanish, diminutive of ocote, a resinous pine tree (Pinus montezuma), from Nahuatl ocotl pine, torch made of pine

First Known Use

1856, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ocotillo was in 1856

Dictionary Entries Near ocotillo

Cite this Entry

“Ocotillo.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ocotillo. Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

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