Joshua tree is a much and irregularly branched
tree growing to some 30' tall. Young trees are ± covered
with spreading or reflexed leaves and usually do not begin to branch
until they are from 3' to 9' high, and in older specimens the leaves
are clustered near the ends of branches. The rigid leaves are
from 12" to 15" long, up to a couple of inches wide, with
minutely serrate non-fibrous margins and an apical spine to 1/2"
long. The flower clusters extend above the leaf clusters and are
up to 20" long. The perianth is cream to greenish-white and
generally waxen in appearance. The fruit is a capsule to 4"
long that releases its seeds after being blown around on the ground.
Joshua tree is an unlikely-appearing member of the lily family and grows
on dry stony mesas, flats and slopes from 2000' to 6000' in the Mojave
Desert, and is in fact an indicator species of that desert and the principal
member of the plant community which is named for it, joshua tree woodland.
Joshua trees do not branch until the plant has bloomed, and tall unbranched
trunks of joshua trees as high as 10'-15' may be found, indicating that
no blooming has taken place. Thereafter, branching takes place wherever
there has been a bloom. The flowers are pollinated by the Yucca moth
with which the joshua tree has a symbiotic relationship. They typically
bloom from March to May.
Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Yucca
Pronunciation: YUK-ka brev-i-FO-lee-a.
Click here for Botanical