Common Names: Boojum, boojum tree
Geographic Origin: Fouquieria columnaris is native to alluvial plains and rocky hillsides within the Sonoran Desert. It is found on the west coast of Baja California, occupying the southern Sierra de San Pedro Martir to the Volcan Las Tres Virgenes, and on Angel de la Guarda Island.
Description: F. columnaris is a treelike succulent with a magnificent form, reaching up to 70 feet in its natural habitat. When young, specimens are bushy, with many thorned, lateral branches. But once mature, the trunk will become columnar, straight, and tapering – either completely erect, like an upside-down carrot, or developing unusual arches. The oldest trees will divide into apical stems, resembling the arms of an octopus. Otherwise, stems are rarely branching but covered in numerous spike-like twigs.
The deciduous, ovate leaves are yellowish green to glaucous, fleshy, and occur in bunches along the stem. From July to August, creamy yellow tubular flowers will bloom in spike-like clusters at the top of the trunk, on branch apexes. Flowers will be followed by the 3-valved, light brown fruits, which resemble a 3-petaled flower once open.
Cultivation and Care:
- Watering: Low
- Lighting: Young boojum should be given partial shade to protect delicate new growth. However, mature F. columnaris require full sun in order to thrive.
- Propagation: The boojum tree can be propagated through seed – however, seeds are often difficult to find, and germination rates are inconsistent.
- Cold tolerance: 25-40°F, USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11
- Special Accommodations: If growing as a container-plant, ensure that adequate nutrition is provided by siting in a semi-rich substrate, and feeding in February with a balanced fertilizer diluted to half strength.