Week One Featured Tree: Joshua Tree / Yucca brevifolia by Marisa Folse
FUN FACTS ABOUT – JOSHUA TREES
- Slow Growers: Joshua’s grow only three (3) inches a year for first ten years! That means a yardstick high tree is over 30 YEARS old.
- Growth slows with age. After first ten years, Joshua trees grow less than 2 inches a year on average. A ten foot tall Yucca Tree is about 80 years old.
- Joshua tree is home to Wood Rats, Scott’s Orioles, Yucca Moths and other desert dwellers.
- Ancestral Natives of region used leaves for sandals and basketry.
- Root system can be shallow and radial like other ancient Cali trees (Giant Sequoia or Redwood).
- Edible tree parts are Flowers, Seeds, Fruit and Roots. Flower buds are bitter and open flower centers are too. Yet open flowers said to be sweet when roasted. Root, young fruit, and seeds are eaten raw or cooked. Note: Joshua roots are pencil thin and very fibrous, unlike the bulbous Yucca roots found in stores. But in a pinch, one can gnaw on a root for sustenance.
Not So Fun Facts – Joshua’s Climate Challenge
- ATVs and desert explorers upset these slow growers. Developers simply cut them down.
- As many forests interconnect underground, surface traffic has negative effect on tree health.
- Over a million Joshua Trees killed in August 2020 Cima Dome Fire. Altered climate events increased fire vulnerability for Joshua Trees. These burnt and their seedlings will not return.
- Fewer young yucca trees now exist due to climate change impacts. Drought and higher ambient temperatures are reducing quantity of young Joshua trees.
- In late 2020, Joshua Tree named and protected as a California Endangered Species. First plant ever listed due to climate impacts.
- Young Joshua trees are now being planting near Cima Dome. Find out more from National Park Service.
- We at Guardians Around The Earth seek to join the Joshua Tree Genome Project work mapping regional trees. Current sites are along 58 freeway between Sand Canyon and Mojave Exits. Volunteers welcome to join our TreeForce.
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Week 1: Joshua Tree
Joshua trees are native to the Mojave desert in parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. They can’t be found anywhere else in the world! They are very slow growing, and can live to be very old. They are a succulent- a kind of plant that stores water- which helps them survive in very hot, dry environments. They are a rare and special tree, so they are protected from being removed or cut down. Especially as temperatures increase due to climate change, it is becoming harder for Jashua Trees to survive and reproduce.
How many Joshua trees can you find this week? Tag @GuardiansAroundTheEarth in your selfies!