Ocotillo always reminds me of the Penitentes (a Catholic sect in the Southwest) who beat their own backs with thorny ocotillo branches with every step as they journeyed to a shrine.
It’s not ocotillo’s fault that men come up with crazy ideas. Like cactus most other desert bushes, ocotillo needs thorns to survive. Ocotillo also grows showy flowers and small green leaves when water is available. During droughts the bush sacrifices its leaves and stands there looking deader than a crispy roadkill pancake until the rains come and life is good.
I don’t know if ocotillo has some meaning in Spanish other than this particular bush, but I vote for “just kidding” because, despite appearances, ocotillo’s not dead, not cactus, and it just can not be a good way to get in good with God.