When talking about Joshua trees, you will think about how unique it is to have a tree like that in your yard. Actually, Joshua tree has some history behind it that became a fun fact for this plant.
Due to its uniqueness and the living behavior that is beyond your imaginations, there is a park named Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree National Park is located in Southern California, along the boundary of two distinct deserts defined by elevation and precipitation patterns: the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. So that you can see and know more about this tree closer and deeper.
As the lily family, the plant with signature shape like this is often found as the clusters in desert landscape. Also, you can tell that Joshua tree is such an indicator plant, because once you find the tree when you are on your way, then you just reach the Mojave desert.
To explain more about how unique yet interesting this plant belongs to the agave family as well, take a look here about Joshua tree facts that you should know before traveling to the national park service or the desert.
Table of Contents
- BEST Joshua Tree Facts
- 1. Joshua Tree is Not An Actual Tree
- 2. Joshua Tree Easily Gets Along with Various Plants.
- 3. Joshua Tree Produces Flowers with an Unpleasant Odor
- 4. Not All Joshua Tree Flowers will Bloom Annually
- 5. Humwichawa is Another Name of Joshua Tree
- 6. They Only Grow Between Elevations of 2,000 and 6,000 Feet
- 7. The Average Lifespan of a Joshua Tree is Said to be about 500 Years
- 8. It Will Take Around Half a Century for a Joshua Tree to Reach Full Size
- 9. Joshua Tree Cannot Live without Yucca Moth
- 10. Joshua Trees Are Crucial to the Ecosystem of the Mojave Desert
- 11. U2’s Landmark Joshua Tree Album was Released in 1987
- 12. The Tallest Joshua Trees Grow As Tall As 15m and 30-100cm in Diameter
- 13. Fleshy Fruit Can be Seen on This Yucca Brevifolia
- 14. London Daily Telegraph Used Joshua Tree as the Paper
- 15. The Reason of Naming Joshua Tree
- Final Thought
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
BEST Joshua Tree Facts
These desert denizens, with their tangled arms reaching skyward, harbor a lifetime of secrets in their fibrous bark and spiny leaves. Join us as we peel back the layers of time to reveal the most enthralling facts about these iconic sentries of the Southwest.
1. Joshua Tree is Not An Actual Tree
Most people think that Joshua is a tree with a unique shape. This famous plant is actually not a tree at all. Because this one belongs to a species of yucca, hence the name yucca brevifolia. While Yucca is in the same subgroup of flowering grasses and orchids.
So, if you think that Joshua is a tree, well, perhaps it is better to say that this one is a gigantic flowering grass that looks like a tree. Moreover, this plant grows well together with other plants such as desert species.
2. Joshua Tree Easily Gets Along with Various Plants.
Just like the desert plants, Joshua trees like dry soils on plains, slopes and mesas.
You will realize that the Joshua tree that lives in the northern Mojave desert grows together with Great Basin species, and in the southern part of the desert, they will get along with Mojave and Sonoran desert species. Even in the famous Joshua Tree National Park, this yucca brevifolia can get along with Juniper, shrub live oak, and single leaf pinyon.
3. Joshua Tree Produces Flowers with an Unpleasant Odor
Although it looks like Joshua tree only consists of foliage that refers to grass and stems, there is a flower cluster that will bloom. Although the color is white, never think that the smell of a yucca flower is good and calming like white rose. Because this flower has an unpleasant odor.
Most people describe the smell like blue cheese and rotten fruit. If you think about why this yucca plant is still what people are looking at, the odor of this plant is a lifetime favorite for the female yucca moth.
4. Not All Joshua Tree Flowers will Bloom Annually
Even in Joshua Tree National Park, there is no certainty that the flowers of Joshua tree will bloom annually. It is because the flowers need spring rains to bring clusters of white-green flowers on long stalks at branch tips. It is all similar to the desert when they bloom, Joshua trees depend on the perfect conditions.
For instance, well-timed rains, and for the Joshua tree, a crisp winter freeze. Because freezing temperatures may damage the growing end of a branch and stimulate flowering, followed by branching. If you realize that some Joshua trees grow like straight stalks; these trees have never bloomed and are branchless too.
5. Humwichawa is Another Name of Joshua Tree
When the first time Joshua tree is found and used for the furniture, the local Cahuilla have long referred to the tree as “hunuvat chiy’a” or “humwichawa;” both names are used by a few elders fluent in the language.
Joshua tree, before it is considered as the protected plant, the local people use it for the basket, sandal because of the tough leaves and stems. Also, the flower buds and raw or roasted seeds are used for the healthy addition to the diet. We have to feel grateful to not taste the flower buds as the healthy drink or food.
6. They Only Grow Between Elevations of 2,000 and 6,000 Feet
You can find Joshua trees in abundant amounts in the Mojave desert since they grow there, particularly in southwest California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona, at elevations from 2,000 to 6,000 feet.
Usually, Joshua trees live in clusters, therefore, when you visit the national park, you can see them in a satisfying view. But, only in a location where U2 took the picture for their album, the Joshua tree stands alone and currently it is dead.
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7. The Average Lifespan of a Joshua Tree is Said to be about 500 Years
Although the expert says that Joshua trees can live up to 500 years, in fact, the average lifespan of this tree is only for 150 years. Counting the age of yucca is not as easy because the annual growth rings might not appear from this plant.
Therefore, the experts usually count the height, since this one grows one-half inch to three inches per year. Yes, Joshua trees are slow growing plants.
The factor that makes this plant not live up to 500 years is because of climate change. Although it is a slow grower and desert vegetation, due to climate change, the hardy plant like this cannot survive as well.
8. It Will Take Around Half a Century for a Joshua Tree to Reach Full Size
As we mentioned before, the Joshua tree is a slow growing plant, therefore no wonder that it takes around half a century for this plant to reach its full size. Moreover, as we mentioned before that there is no annual growth ring from the tree, it means that the growing steps for Joshua tree is kind of unique. Furthermore, the life cycle for this plant takes longer than human beings because it takes 50 to 60 years to mature.
9. Joshua Tree Cannot Live without Yucca Moth
Yes, it is a real fact that Joshua tree cannot live without Yucca moth. Because this plant and Yucca moths have a mutual symbiotic relationship. The caterpillars of the Yucca moth eat the tree’s seeds.
Without the Yucca moths, Joshua Trees would have a harder time reproducing due to reduced pollination. Yucca moths’ favorite place to place their eggs is on the stamen of Joshua tree.
Also, when people think the smell of yucca flowers is very annoying and disgusting because the unpleasant odor is quite strong, for yucca moths, it is such a luxurious perfume.
10. Joshua Trees Are Crucial to the Ecosystem of the Mojave Desert
In the Mojave Desert, the Joshua tree becomes the crucial factor to the ecosystem. Because the trees provide food and habitat to local species. As you know, the yucca moths also lay the eggs inside the tree.
The way Joshua trees grow will give an impact for the desert vegetation and other species.
11. U2’s Landmark Joshua Tree Album was Released in 1987
Joshua tree became more famous since the legendary band, U2, released their cover album located in HWY 190. The album name itself is ‘Joshua Tree’ too, because Bono and other members felt amused about the history of the tree.
Because the photo is very clear that the plant is getting exposed beautifully together with the band member, HWY 190 became more famous and was visited by the fans. The album became the best-selling as well and successfully hit 20 million copies sold worldwide.
12. The Tallest Joshua Trees Grow As Tall As 15m and 30-100cm in Diameter
Ever wonder the tallest Joshua that ever lived? The tallest tree reached 15 m or 49 feet tall. And the diameter for the tree is around 30 – 100 cm in the Mojave desert.
Branches are erect, ascending or spreading, and form a dense, compact, rounded top. The soft, corklike bark is rough and fissured. The inflorescence is a crowded, brittle, often glabrous panicle.
13. Fleshy Fruit Can be Seen on This Yucca Brevifolia
It is pretty complete for Joshua tree because as the agave family, it not only produces the flowers, but also a fleshy fruit. The color of the fruit is green or brown, oval shaped and filled with seeds.
Usually, the fruits appear from late spring to summer. And the fruits become brittle and fall to the ground, the scattered seeds are not eaten by wildlife. If you wonder if the young fruit can be enjoyed by humans, the answer is yes.
You can eat the young fruit by slicing, seeding, drying it first or just eating it fresh. As for the seeds, you can eat it raw or roasted.
14. London Daily Telegraph Used Joshua Tree as the Paper
Back in 1883, one of the biggest newspapers, The London Daily Telegraph, used Joshua tree pulp to make paper.
Actually, it is not the first time that the tree is used for various needs, such as making paper. Because previously, the people also used it to make the house items such as baskets, sandals, bowls, canisters and many more.
15. The Reason of Naming Joshua Tree
Wondering why the name is as unique as its shape? Well, this tree got its name from the Mormon pioneers who thought the tree reminded them of Joshua, from the old testament of the Bible, a prophet who was waving them on to the Promised Land.
Actually, the unusual Joshua Tree grows in the protective setting of the Joshua Tree National Park in California and in the Joshua Forest Parkway in western Arizona. Therefore, if you think that the tree just looks so-so, then you can check the two locations above to see how quirky and unusual it is.
The Joshua tree, a majestic symbol of resilience and beauty in the harsh desert landscape, stands as a testament to the intricate and awe-inspiring connections within nature, reminding us of the delicate balance and interdependence of life in even the most challenging environments.
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Can Joshua trees be used for landscaping?
While Joshua trees are striking, they are not typically used for residential landscaping due to their slow growth and specific environmental needs. They are best appreciated in their natural desert habitats.
What are the threats to Joshua trees from human activities?
Human activities such as urban development, mining, and unsustainable tourism pose threats to Joshua trees. These activities can lead to habitat loss and fragmentation, impacting the trees’ ability to reproduce and survive.
Can Joshua trees be found outside the Mojave Desert?
While Joshua trees are synonymous with the Mojave Desert, they can also be found in small, isolated populations in the Sonoran Desert and in Joshua Tree National Park, a protected area dedicated to preserving these unique plants.
Can Joshua trees be used for anything?
Historically, Native Americans used parts of the Joshua tree for making baskets, sandals, and other items. However, they are now mostly valued for their ecological and aesthetic importance.