THE JOSHUA TREE
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