From the time we moved to the High Desert in southern California, part of the Mojave Desert and the home of Joshua trees,
I wanted one in our yard. However, Joshua trees are protected; it’s illegal to dig them up or cut them down. We have been told that they don’t transplant well, that they have to be oriented exactly the same way or they die. The best way to get one is to buy a lot with one (or more) on it. But you can’t–at least not without red tape–remove them to make room for a house. We did find a lot, and the Joshua trees on it (only one of noticeable size) were not where we wanted our house.
Joshua trees aren’t, botanically, trees. They are of the lily family. If you are a botanist you know why–we don’t. In 2008, the year we began building, they bloomed, a forest of blooms just across the road from us. Each cluster is a multitude of creamy bells at the end of a branch. They didn’t bloom again until this year, and the blooms are not as heavy as in 2008. Moisture has to fall in the right amount at the right time. How they received that moisture this year is a mystery to us because it’s another very dry year.
Skus read that these are the largest bloom blossoms of any plant in North America.
The “leaves” are needle-sharp spikes 4 to 10 inches. The “bark” is shaggy, and thick enough to prevent evaporation. There are no tree rings, but what looks like a vertical rope of the diameter used to tie up a large ship.
The Mormon pioneers called these strange plants Joshua Trees, thinking they looked like Joshua raising his arms and beckoning them into the promised land.