What is a Joshua Tree?

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What is a Joshua Tree?
Joshua trees are trees that grow in America’s Southwest region, particularly in the Mojave Desert. It comes from the genus “yucca” and species “brevifolia”, so many also call it “yucca tree”. It is said to be the largest in the “yucca” genus and usually grows up to 49-feet tall. The name “Joshua” was said to be given by Mormons as a reference to the prophet Joshua in the Bible. These Mormons back then thought of the tree’s shape as Joshua’s hands guiding them for their travel.

Joshua trees are mostly found in the higher parts of the Mojave Desert, which is a vast region along the states of Nevada, Utah, California, and Arizona in the US. It has spiked leaves, flowers that are shaped like bells and fleshy fruits which are elliptical in shape. The flowers usually come out during spring time, and the fruits fall off by the end of spring. Joshua trees are able to reproduce through pollination from a particular female moth (Tegeticula). These moths have their larvae on the flower’s ovaries and feed on the yucca trees’ seeds.

Native Americans of the past use the leaves from a Joshua tree to weave baskets and make sandals. Flowers from the tree were also consumed as food, and can be eaten either raw or roasted. Seeds from the fruit were also grounded and eaten. Small roots or rootlets were used to make dyes. People who had ranches in the desert used the tree’s trunks for fencing. Various animals also use the Joshua tree as home. Birds like orioles have been seen to nest on the tree’s branches and wood rats also take advantage of the spiny leaves at the base of the tree. Insects and lizards also abound in the trunk and at the base of Joshua trees.

Many people like Joshua trees for its history and its many uses. Many also consider it a very striking presence amidst the barren landscape of the Mojave Desert.

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