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Joshua tree in the desert

Joshua Tree, The Desert Prophet


Endemic to the southern US, this yucca dominates the arid landscape of the Mojave Desert.

The word desert normally evokes a wide-open and empty space, an arid and lifeless place. But that’s not the case of the Mojave Desert, which is home to, among giant rocks and stony mountains, the Joshua tree, a spectacular and corpulent symbol of life.

Tradition has it that the tree was given its name in the mid-19th century by the Mormons that crossed the desert. They said its silhouette resembled Joshua, the biblical prophet and successor of Moses, while he prayed with his hands raised toward the sky.

Other legends have it that the tree, with its twisted branches, signaled the way the Jews should go to the Palestinian city of Jericho. Which is why, as well as being a strange and beautiful tree, it is also a symbol of Christian spirituality, a tree-prophet.

Also known in Mexico as the desert izote, the Joshua tree (or Yucca brevifolia) is endemic to the southwestern US and only grows in California, Utah, Nevada and Arizona. One of its main sanctuaries is the Joshua Tree National Park, in southeast California, a beautiful and monumental labyrinth of rocks, sand and bushes, and whose landscape is dominated by the Joshua tree, the stamp of which reminds us of the stories of the first European immigrants to explore the Wild West – within the park is a mine dating from the gold rush, buildings constructed by 19th century cowboys, and the Barker Dam reservoir.

In springtime the trees are crowned with cream-colored flowers of the same species as orchids and tulips. The Joshua tree is an endemic and unique species, the number of which has worryingly diminished due to climate change.

In the middle of the sandy desert, the elegant and imposing presence of the Joshua trees make the Mojave Desert a landscape of luxury, a land of impressive rock formations, unique bird and reptile species and spectacular starry nights. A must-see place for desert lovers.

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