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The Joshua tree is actually a species of yucca (Yucca Brevifolia), that can reach a height of 50 feet and is believed to live for up to 1,000 years although they are difficult to date accurately - as they are not proper trees, there are no annual growth rings. A large cluster of white or greenish flowers can appear at the end of each stem from March to May, but this requires just the right combination of springtime temperature and moisture, and several years may pass without a major blooming. Plants start to form the familiar branched appearance when they are 6 to 10 feet tall and several decades old, with new stems forming only after a flowering. The tree was first named by Mormon pioneers in the nineteenth century, who thought that the upturned branches resembled the arms of the prophet Joshua, pointing the way to the promised land.
Yucca brevifolia - more details
Joshua Tree Distribution Map
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