These past few days, I have spent some bopping around Lancaster. Enough to know that it is mostly desert country. Mohave desert country to be specific. Beautiful in its own terribly dry and scorching hot way. It is a place where a grass lawn looks startlingly out of place. (And yet people still try to grow it.)
One sure sign you are in the Mohave is the presence of Joshua trees. Passing a field of Joshua trees is like stumbling on a crowd of trees that suddenly got religion of the David Koresh kind. These born again trees raise twisted limbs to the sky in a crazed supplication. Apparently the early Mormon pioneers thought so as well, as they supposedly named for the prophet Joshua.
My sister informed me that it is illegal to take down or move a Joshua Tree and that the properties that are covered with them are rendered worthless. A search of the internet when I got home showed no such law, but I wonder if this is a widespread urban legend in these parts and if an unsuspecting homeowner’s value is affected by it.
Joshua trees are yuccas. A painfully slow growing yucca, growing only an average of a halfÂ inch a year. I was particularly lucky in that the Joshua Trees were in full bloom, which only happens from February to April and not every year. Blooming only happens if an appropriate amount of rainfall happens. I just was lucky that the right conditions happened this year and that I had the chance to be here. The tree also has just one pollinator, the Yucca Moth.
Frequently, Joshua Trees are seen growing in groups and this happens because they can grow from underground rhizomes. They also grow from seeds.
The biggest threat to Joshua Trees is in the desert is wind. These plants have very shallow root systems and the a good stiff wind can knock them over in a heartbeat. Struck down by the hand of God, I suppose you could say.
Crooked and bent, constantly battling the elements, these trees are a testament to the sheer tenacity of plants in the desert. They are also a symbol of the botanical beauty that exists in even the harshest elements.