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Desert Green: Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree

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(Image credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher)


Creosote bush can reach a height of 4 to 10 feet (1.2 to 3 m). Its waxy leaves give off a unique odor when moistened by rainwater that once smelled, is always remembered. Many a visitor to deserts where the creosote bush grows has exclaimed when a thunderstorm forms on the horizon, "It smells like it is going to rain!" Botanists believe that some of these desert shrubs may be upwards to 9,000 years old, making them the oldest living life form.

Joshua Tree

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(Image credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher)


But here in Joshua Tree National Park, in this most southern section of the Mojave Desert, it is the Joshua Tree yucca that usually gets most of the attention. Its name comes from Mormon immigrants who, when first crossing the Colorado River and coming upon these unique flora, named the plants after the biblical figure, Joshua, seeing their outstretched branches as guiding them westward toward the Promised Land.

Joshua Tree

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(Image credit: Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher)


At times the appearance of a forest of Joshua Trees can create a Dr. Seuss-type landscape that has captured the imagination of both historic pioneers and modern day travelers alike. And if you spend some time walking among and gazing at these extraordinary Mojave Desert yuccas, you just might think of the good doctor's Lorax who spoke for the trees and find that the Joshua Trees just might speak to you.