We fell in love with the southwest when we studied at Micheal Moore’s Southwest School of Botanical Medicine in 2006. When I saw our good friend Meghan McDowell’s new site of pictures from her Sonoran life I knew we needed to feature a couple of these shots. Check them all out here and then feast your eyes on these two beautiful ocotillo pictures.
These monster thorns are present all year round, but the leaves only spring forth with desert rains.. . .
Michael Moore reintroduced ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) to the modern apothecary. Its use is especially helpful around the holidays when meals are laden with fats, meats and when over eating seems an obligatory move. Ocotillo is a lymphatic that allows fats to be better absorbed and moved throughout the body. This eases stress on the liver (portal blood system), congestion of the lymph (and immune system), and can offer very fast relief for folks who get occasional hemorrhoids after fatty meals. We love this herb on its own and add it to many personalized formulas to great success.
These octopus like cacti dot the landscape of the southern Sonoran desert, holding court with the likes of cholla and fishhook cacti in the north and often seen with their gigantic saguaro brothers in the south. The flower essence of the majestic fiery plume is a special essence used to remedy the inability to express emotions or to understand ones feelings. Watching the wiry dance of a swaying ocotillo one can understand how this plant is soothing, calming and grounding. One glance at the thorns and you may instantly understand its penchant for protecting and guiding; you may also see it planting as living fences in many southwestern homesteads. The flower essence (and the plant in general) Remedies Vata imbalance and may help with symptoms of carpal tunnel, arthritis, rheumatism, fibromyalgia, menopausal bone loss, osteoarthritis, and nerve pain from new or old injuries.
We use the waxy striated bark of the arms for medicine, harvesting and tincturing it fresh as well as drying some for teas. Harvest can be dangerous with all those large thorns, but the reward is worth all the extra effort.