About the Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree or Yucca Brevifolia is really a plant, not a tree. It has been classified to be a member of the Lily Family. It can grow up to 40 feet at a rate of approximately 1 inch per year. It’s fruit is pollinated only by the female Yucca moth. The Joshua Tree only grows in the Mojave Desert.
What’s with the name?
This was the first thing the kids wanted to know. So, we asked them, “Why do you think it’s called Joshua Tree?” All three agreed it had to do with Joshua from the Bible. So, we found the answer in the guide we received at the entrance. The legend is that the Mormons gave the tree the name because it appeared to be beckoning them to their new promised land. Unfortunately, no one knows for sure how the tree became known as the Joshua Tree.
When exploring the National Park Service website, we found that they had a free PDF book about the Joshua Tree. It’s great for elementary students, but my middle school child enjoyed hearing the story also.Download “A Tree Named Lily” by National Park Service.
Our Visit to Joshua Tree National Park
My first encounter with “Joshua Tree” was U2’s Joshua Tree (affiliate link) album. Joshua Tree National Park is located near Twentynine Palms in Southern California. It was designated a National Monument in 1936 and officially a National Park in 1994. The park has over 550,000 acres of wilderness to explore. What an amazing place this is!
We visited the park on May 21, 2011. We entered through the west entrance. The road to the park goes through a residential area so at first we thought we were going the wrong way. As you enter the park you start to see these funny looking trees; the Joshua Tree. At first the park seems just like another desert. However, as we started to drive through the park, use our eyes, ears, nose and hands, we discovered a beauty of it’s own!
We took the 20 minute drive to the Keys View. I was very disappointed to discover that the smog from LA had drifted here and ruined what would be an amazing scene! From this viewpoint you can see the Salton Sea, 95 miles to the Mexican/US Border, the San Adreas Fault and the Coachella Valley. I imagine it’s very beautiful if the smog clears away.
Visiting the park allowed us to discuss the importance of protecting our environment. The kids were disgusted that nature could be ruined by smog created by an overabundance of people in one area. We also took the time to feel the Joshua Tree spikes, enjoy the different flowers blooming, pet a cactus (OUCH!), look at different rocks and try to find little critters.
One of the funniest moment was when I started photographing this bird. I swore it was a hawk. SO excited I was until it landed. It was a black raven. That’s it? The kids thought it was hilarious!
More Pictures from Joshua Tree