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Joshua Tree

Pictures of Joshua Tree National Park

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Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree Plant

© 2009 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
The "tree" this national park is named for isn't really a tree at all. Instead, it's a member of the lily family whose official name is Yucca brevifolia. It's also an indicator that you are in the Mojave desert, which occupies higher elevations than the Colorado Desert around Palm Springs.

When you see a big specimen like this one, it's easy to see how it got the "tree" monniker and the tallest ones grow to 40 feet high (at the rate of about 1/2 inch per year). The Joshua part came from the biblical figure, so-named by early Mormon immigrants who - as legend tells it - thought the tree's outstretched limbs guided them westward like Joshua guided the Israelites to their promised land.

In a rainy year, Joshua tree branches sprout clusters of white-green flowers, making them an even more striking sight.

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