Saturday, February 2, 2013

a desert view

During my "take a picture and post it" daily challenge during January, I kept wanting to show some of the desert, but I never got a chance to post these pictures. I wanted to share these, plus another post in the next few days, even though my challenge is over.

This shape is how I know I am back at home:

Can you guess what it is?
 They are Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia), one of the indicator plants of the Mojave desert. There are a lot of them around here:
Joshua Tree forest
 When I first moved here, I thought they were kind of ugly, but slowly I began to appreciate them for all their different shapes and forms. I still like the big ones with branches the best. They can grow in all kind of weird shapes:
Joshua Trees around town
 They grow in lots of places here - dirt lots, people's yards (having been there before the people), and just out and around. Some businesses use them in their landscaping. They have a reputation for being difficult to grow in gardens, especially if you water them. All these pictures were taken in "the wild" - so no irrigation possible.

Up close, there are lots of interesting details:
Trunk with and without old leaves (L), left over blooms (C, bottom R)
They usually bloom in the spring - and given the cold temperatures we've had, there might be lot of flowers this year. I'll have to go back and take more pictures.

Here are some more examples - I still don't think they look much like proper trees, but they are interesting looking in their own right. These plants can live for hundreds of years - some of the big ones are probably at least a 100 years old.
More Yucca - the one in bottom center is probably ~50 ft tall
One of the plants that it's often found with (at least here), goes by the common name "Teddy Bear Cholla" (Cylindropuntia bigelovii)  Golden Cholla / Cylindropuntia echinocarpa (thanks to David of The Desert Edge for the correct ID! I would not suggest touching this particular cholla:
Evil Spines
It is covered in spines. This is definitely a case of "looks pretty" but don't touch!
They glow in the sun, especially in the afternoon
These are wider shots of one of the areas I took pictures - when I see this, I know I'm back in the desert:
Joshua Trees in the afternoon

I had to include this one, just for the light.
And when I see this tree, I know I'm almost back at work:
Mojave Desert - Joshua trees/power lines/mountains - sounds about right


  1. Incredible variety you captured - my favorite tree yucca! A commercial grower in Arizona has loads of nice Joshua trees grown from seed, many over 6' tall, yet they are not marketing them - sad. Way more landscapes in Las Vegas, Mojave towns should use them.

    Your cholla is Golden Cholla / Cylindropuntia echinocarpa. Some are more silvery, but those less common - mine in pots came from silver cholla cuttings in the northern Mojave above Las Vegas:

    Teddy Bear Cholla a bit more frost tender, but OK in Las Vegas:

    1. Thanks for the corrected ID! I went back and forth on which one this was for a while, so I really need to study the native plants more.

      Some of the smaller nurseries here have Joshua trees for sale, including some bigger ones. I'd love to see them used more in new plantings, but at least here the builders are finding creative ways to display the ones that are already at the site.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Ah! Thank you for these beautiful wonderful. Our next grey rainy day I'm pulling up this blog post and just getting lost in it. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for your comment! I know we're lucky with our blue skies even in the winter - one of the things I noticed during this challenge!


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