Category Archives: Plant Life

Joshua Tree

Mojave Desert Plants: Trees Joshua Tree
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Yucca Brevifolia (Joshua Tree)

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION
Joshua tree is one of the most characteristic plants of the Mojave Desert and extends southward to the Mojave-Sonoran Desert ecotone. This species grows from southern California, Mexico, and western Arizona eastward into southern Nevada and southwestern Utah.Var. brevifolia reaches its greatest abundance in the vicinity of Joshua Tree National Park; California. var. jaegeriana grows primarily in the eastern portion of the Mojave; var. herbertii is restricted to parts of the western Mojave Desert in California.The Joshua tree was named after the biblical leader, Joshua, as it reminded the Mormon pioneers of the hero raising out-stretched arms toward the heavens.William Lewis Manly referred to them as “cabbage trees” in his book (Death Valley in ’49), about the rescue of the Bennett and Arcane families from Death Valley.Pedro Fages, in his expedition along the edge of the Mojave searching for deserters from the Spanish Army, called the ungainly trees “palm” trees.

Source: Joshua Tree

Nurse Plant

Nurse Plant:

"Nurse plant pinon pine for Joshua trees


This pinon pine tree is nurse plant for a tiny forest of tiny Joshua trees.

Nurse plants are plants that help other plant species grow by providing shelter, a safe microhabitat for seed germination and seedling growth beneath their canopy.

Aphid Loaf

Reeds along Big Bear Lake
I have heard the Indians would go to the reeds in the riparian areas where aphids fed in large numbers, brush away the tiny bugs and scrape their shiny-sticky waste from the blades. En masse the material would be shaped into a large, heavy loaf with a hardness and sweetness similar to rock candy. In Jedediah Smith’s first expedition across the Mojave his guides recovered a cache of the sweet bread to supplement their then meatless diet.

“But men accustomed to living on meat and at the same time travelling hard will Eat a surprising quantity of corn and Beans which at this time constituted our principal subsistence.”
~ J.Smith, 1826

Illustrator of Mojave Desert flora

Henry R. Mockle (1905-1981),
Illustrator of Mojave Desert flora

Rather than documenting the structure of each plant species in scientific detail, Henry Mockle intended his illustrations to capture “the pleasurable feeling at coming up on one of these little creations”.

Henry Mockle painting of desert Indian paintbrush

Paintbrush

As did naturalist Edmund Jaeger, Mockle took pride in all his studies of desert plants being taken directly from life. This work often involves lying on the ground for hours, in conditions ranging from hot to cold, windy to wet. As some annual plants – like the Phacelia – per growing up and through the protective spread of woody shrubs. Mockle found he had to lay beneath creosote bushes and other scrub vegetation to depict these wildflowers in full.

Henry Mockle painting of coyote melon

Coyote melon

 

Painting of desert mallow

Desert Mallow

 

Source: Riverside Metropolitan Museum

The Thousand Year Ballet

Migration- plants migrate. Plants are always looking for ideal conditions, conditions that help them live longer and better. This is a condition of life. Everything living does this. Inch by inch, foot by foot, generation after generation–plant populations move, march on toward better lives in more conducive environments. They adapt. They evolve. They move in the gradual changes of long term weather patterns. We may not see it in our lifetimes, but we can in the histories find evidence of, and compile; this used to be here, that used to be there, relict populations remain if any. A seed grows here but not there, and a seed will sprout on this side and not that side. A slow dance extending much longer than we can personally experience, but a dance indeed.Mojave yucca

Mojave yucca

Mojave yucca
http://mojavedesert.net/plants/shrubs/yucca-schidigera.html

Simply Nature

Photo of cresote bushes at sunset in early spring in the Mojave Desert

Creosote at Sunset

It is simple, really; the wind storms bring dusk early to the high desert. The airborne dust hastens the sunset, and the sunset goes deep and passionately purple. the wind rests and the day is over.  Equilibrium.
The desert wind has played its joke.

Move forward into the forever blue of the “Everything.”

A long night to hunt or be hunted.
By the time the sun has raced around the earth and rises, the game has changed ever so slightly, and some desert creatures will be dead, and some will be fed.

~ W.Feller.

Zigzag

Interesting how a zigzag of light against a shadow will catch your eye while you look away from the low sun. Anticipation, is paramount; the shadows roll over the mountain canyons and ridges quickly. Observe it then. Blank everything else out and don’t look away. What you will see will never be the same again. Don’t miss your moment!

photo of Mojave yucca at sunset, Apple Valley, CA.

A zigzag of light