Joshua Trees Reaching To Heaven
Joshua Trees Reaching to Heaven
When you hear of Joshua Trees do you immediately think of U2 (yes, the band), a yucca plant or a national park, one of the newest in the United States park system?
The quick and simple answer is, the Joshua Tree is a Yucca; tree-like but not a tree, Yucca brevifolia, endemic to the Mohave desert. Now generally, the sparse rainfall, sometimes nonexistent and blistering, unrelenting heat of the desert is not a place for trees but this plant has some botanical adaptations to get it through life between 400 and 1800 metres in the scorching summer heat as well as below freezing winters. Large, creamy white panicles bloom in spring from the branches, depending on rainfall and a winter freeze. The yucca moth pollinates the plant. A fibrous trunk and deep root system (up to 11 metres) allows these desert plants to survive harsh desert conditions for hundreds of years, some have seen a thousand. Imagine the tales they could tell the first Mormon settlers when they crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The tree’s unique shape reminded Mormons of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer. Since then these Yuccas have been Joshua Trees.
What does U2 have to do with a uniquely adapted Yucca? Stay tuned.
For other posts on American deserts, see also: