|Boojum tree at Baja California desert, Cataviña region.|
(Kellogg) Kellogg ex Curran
Fouquieria columnaris, the Boojum tree or cirio (American Spanish: [ˈsiɾjo]) is a tree in the family Fouquieriaceae, whose other members include the ocotillos. It is nearly endemic to the Baja California Peninsula, with only a small population in the Sierra Bacha of Sonora, Mexico. The plant's English name, Boojum, was given by Godfrey Sykes of the Desert Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona and is taken from Lewis Carroll's poem "The Hunting of the Snark".
The peculiar distribution pattern of the mainland boojums has led Mexican botanists to conclude that they were probably transplanted to the mainland by the indigenous Seri people, who lived in this area and still live on communal property south of this location. The Seri name for this plant is cototaj [ˈkototax]. In Seri belief, touching this plant will cause strong winds to blow (an undesirable state). Given this belief, the hypothesis that the Seri people transplanted it is doubtful.
The Fouquieria columnaris trunk is up to 24 cm thick, with branches sticking out at right angles, all covered with small leaves 1.5–4 cm long. They can grow to a height of 20 m. The flowers bloom in summer and autumn; they occur in short racemes, and are creamy yellow with a honey scent.
- Felger, Richard; Mary B. Moser. (1985). People of the desert and sea: ethnobotany of the Seri Indians. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
- Moser, Mary B.; Stephen A. Marlett (2005). Comcáac quih yaza quih hant ihíip hac: Diccionario seri–español–inglés (in Spanish and English). Hermosillo, Sonora: Universidad de Sonora and Plaza y Valdés Editores.
- Robert R. Humphrey. The Boojum and its Home