Joshua Tree

The tall, spiky tree in front of you is a Joshua Tree. There are many myths about this strange looking plant.

A common myth is that they grow in the Holy Land, but they are ONLY found in the Mojave Desert area.

The association is because of the biblical name given to it by the Mormon settlers, who saw its resemblance to the bearded prophet Joshua, raising his arms to lead the people to the Promised Land.

Another myth is that it's a tree; it's actually a large yucca plant, in the agave family.

A third myth is that they are ancient relics, living for a thousand years or more. But, recent studies have found that they only live about 2-300 years.

Joshua trees once covered the Antelope Valley and provided food and shelter for both animals and humans, until the late 1800's when farming began altering the landscape. Visit our nearby sister park, Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park, for a glimpse of how the valley looked long ago.