The National Park Services describes Joshua Trees as “spiky trees straight out of a Dr. Seuss book”, noting that these unusual plants are unique and special. The Joshua Tree, namesake of the park itself, is actually a yucca plant and member of the agave family. In many ways, the Joshua Tree has more in common with desert grasses and orchids than actual trees but their size and appearance dictates that we allow for the misunderstanding.
In today’s post, the last in the series, I’ll feature some images of the Joshua Tree itself along with a few of my favorite trails. Regular readers of this blog know that my own landscape photographic interests often gravitate to the beauty of the trails themselves.
Native people discovered many uses for the plant, including in the creation of footwear and baskets. Additionally ground seeds were added to their foods. Eventually, Mormon immigrants found their way to the area and named the trees after the biblical character, Joshua, upon recognizing the outstretched limbs as a gesture of prayer and way finding. By the time ranchers and miners arrived, the Joshua Tree became most frequently used as fences, corrals and fuel for stream engines.
Joshua Trees grow one half to three inches per year depending on their age and the amount of water available. They live on average for 150 years, but many are suspected to be much older than that.
I must say that when I visited the park several years ago, I found myself more interested in the terrain, rock structures, and desert landscapes. But on this more recent trip, I grew to appreciate their appearance and, accordingly, they were much more my photographic focus.