Fouquieria columnaris

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Boojum Tree
Cirio columnaris, boojum tree.jpg
Boojum tree in Baja California desert, Cataviña region.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Fouquieriaceae
Genus: Fouquieria
Species: F. columnaris
Binomial name
Fouquieria columnaris
(Kellogg) Kellogg ex Curran
  • Idria columnaris Kellogg
  • Fouquieria gigantea Orcutt

Fouquieria columnaris, the Boojum tree or cirio (American Spanish: [ˈsiɾjo]) is a tree in the family ocotillo family, whose other members include the ocotillos. It is nearly endemic to the Baja California Peninsula (both the northern and southern states), 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".[2][3][4]


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].[5] 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.[3]


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. (0.6-2.0 inches) They can grow to a height of 20 meters (almost 70 feet). The flowers bloom in summer and autumn; they occur in short racemes, and are creamy yellow with a honey scent.[6]


  1. ^ The Plant List, Fouquieria columnaris (C.Kellogg) Kellogg ex Curran
  2. ^ Robert R. Humphrey. The Boojum and its Home
  3. ^ a b Felger, Richard; Mary B. Moser. (1985). People of the desert and sea: ethnobotany of the Seri Indians. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. 
  4. ^ Carroll, Lewis, 1876. The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits complete text of poem
  5. ^ Moser, Mary B.; Stephen A. Marlett (2005). Comcáac quih yaza quih hant ihíip hac: Diccionario seri–español–inglés (PDF) (in Spanish and English). Hermosillo, Sonora: Universidad de Sonora and Plaza y Valdés Editores. 
  6. ^ Shreve, F. & I. L. Wiggins. 1964. Vegetation and Flora of the Sonoran Desert. 2 vols. Stanford University Press, Stanford

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