Named By a group of Mormon settlers

Who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century,

The tree’s unique shape reminded the Latter Day Saints

Of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up

To the sky in prayer. Ranchers and miners of the time

Took advantage of the Joshua tree, using the trunks and

Branches as fencing and fuel for ore-processing steam

Engines. Described as desert sentries with fibrous trunks

And twisting, outstretched arms, they are a foundation

Species, providing habitat for animals that would otherwise

Disappear. Birds make nests in the trees and rodents pry

Food from the seed pods while the Yucca night lizard,

the smallest lizard in North America, nests

Under its fallen branches.

Here in the high desert, wherever there are large empty

Fields not cleared for crops, there are Joshua Trees, growing

Stately and beautiful.

The Joshua Trees are fast growers; new seedlings may grow as

Much as three Inches in a year. If the trees can survive the

Rigors of the desert and the advance of human civilization,

they can live hundreds of years up to a thousand years.

However, experts say that the Joshua Tree will vanish completely

From the southern half of California within a century.


As a girlfriend and I drove around the Antelope valley, photographing

The Joshua trees, I wondered – will they still be here when my

grandchildren are grown up? or will these ancient plants become victim

to global warming, drought, pollution….or the advancement of humanity?

Last year, a great deal of rain fell in the Antelope Valley—enough that the

Governor proclaimed the drought was over.

Visibly renewed by all the rainy weather, the Joshua trees perked up

Beautifully. One spectacular view of these strange-looking trees is a sunrise or

A sunset, with the sun in the background, fortified by the sight of snow

On the mountains.


Sandra Lee Smith/updated 5-19-18



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