The Magic Ocotillo

Ocotillo (Oh-koh-TEE-oh) is a desert plant. It’s adaptable and visually interesting. It looks like a bunch of thorny sticks stuck in the ground. In the summer, it drops its leaves.


When it rains or the weather is mild, it develops leaves.


In the Spring, it blooms with extravagant orange-red flowers. (Can’t resist the close-up below).


Here is what amazes me about these plants–when it rains, they grow leaves—fast. In hours. I have an ocotillo in my front yard. We are in the Monsoon right now, and this afternoon and evening we had huge rainstorms. Below is my ocotillo one hour after the rain started. You can see the big thorns and some tiny leaves developing.


An hour later, it looked like the photo below. The leaves are a lot bigger.


And this evening, about two hours after the rain started, the leaves has become full size. It’s sort of like an instant, fast-motion chia pet.


The leaves will stay and absorb water from the atmosphere as long as it stays humid. Once the humidity drops, so will the leaves. This happens as fast as they developed.

When I look at the ocotillo I think of characteristics I’d like to borrow: adaptable, resilient, OK with change, thriving under challenging conditions, sturdy, grounded and amazing. So the next Inner Hero I want to add is Ocotillo.

—Quinn McDonald has no trouble finding Inner Heroes wherever they show up.