Friday, May 28, 2010

The Mighty Joshua Tree

Joshua Trees have long intrigued me. They are the largest of the yucca family and can live for hundreds of years.

The name for the plant Yucca brevifolia, comes from the Mormon Pioneers who described the yucca as the Biblical Joshua with his arms raised to heaven.

Joshua Trees define the boundaries of the Mojave Desert in Utah, Nevada, and California in the north, Arizona to the east and south and California to the south and west. They are commonly cultivated in desertscapes throughout the American Southwest outside of their
normal range with fairly good success. *Also, don't forget the joshua tree in Aurora, CO is THRIVING!* The only protection it receives is being planted against the house**

They stand as sentinels to an old west type of time when survival by your own wits was they way to go or die. What is interesting is that many of the older trees could have been well established as the pioneers made their way west to southern Nevada, California, and Arizona.

Joshua Tree National Park in California is famed for some of the largest Joshua Trees on record. They can be grown from seed, though somewhat tedious to do. I have one sapling that is a fluke of luck and survived the winter buried under snow.

They are commonly out of range found in cities and towns across the west. I have seen them in Salt Lake City, Utah and surrounding areas, I have one and a large yucca, not a Joshua Tree, but equally as tall growing on a ditch bank in American Fork, Utah. I have also seen them in Moab, Utah, Grand Junction, Colorado, Wendover, Utah and even Oregon.

Do not hug a Joshua Tree or you will bleed. Just appreciate the sentinel of the American Southwest.

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