boojum tree Fouquieriaceae Fouquieria
columnaris (Kellogg) Kellogg ex Curran symbol: FOCO3
Leaf: Helically alternate, obovate, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long, entire margins, fleshy, occur in bunches, yellow-green to blue-green.
Flower: Tubular, creamy yellow (may be reddish), 1 inch long, occur in 15 to 20 inch spike-like clusters near the tops of the tree.
Fruit: Light brown, 3 valved elongated (1 inch long) capsule, when split open they curve back resembling a 3-petaled dry flower.
Twig: Yellowish brown or greenish, numerous 1 to 2 inch long slender thorns at the base of each leaf cluster. Twigs occur spike-like along the trunk.
Bark: Light yellow-green, smooth but dimpled where small twigs have fallen off, very tough outer "skin".
Form: Straight, single tapering trunk (up to 50 feet tall) with few branches but numerous small twigs. Looks a bit like an upside down large carrot. VERY UNUSUAL, considered by many to be the strangest looking tree on earth. They resemble something from a science fiction book.
Looks like: ocotillo
Additional Range Information: Fouquieria columnaris is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting boojum tree.
External Links: USDA Plants Database
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson