California: Joshua Tree National Park
Before we enter the park, here is how you drive through the Colorado desert in eastern Califonia:
And then, the scenery changes when we enter Joshua Tree National Park:
Two large desert ecosystems come together at Joshua Tree National Park:
-the Colorado Desert occupies the park’s eastern part; it is dominated by abundant creosote bushes but accented by stands of spidery ocotillo and jumping cholla cactus.
– the Mojave Desert, situated on a higher elevation, more moist, slightly cooler; it hosts its signature plant-and ecological cornerstone-the Joshua tree. It occupies the park’s western part.
Here are my favourite Joshua Trees with their flowers and weird shapes:
The park encompasses some of the most interesting geologic displays in all California deserts. Exposed granite monoliths and rugged, twisted-rock mountains testify to powerful Earth forces.
Young tourists enjoy climbing these granite mountains. The young lady you see on this picture came to visit California from Germany. We had a little conversation with her husband who was securing her with a rope at the bottom of this rock.
Actually, everywhere we looked we saw people climbing huge rocks.
But my favourite part of the park are its Joshua trees. Here are some of my best pictures combined with some facts about this unusual plant:
– Historical records show that Joshua trees were named by the Mormons in the 1850s as they traveled through the Mojave Desert on their way to the town of San Bernardino. The many branches that spread up in all directions reminded them of the biblical Joshua beckoning them to the Promised Land.
– The Joshua tree’s bizarre look comes from the manner in which it sends up flower clusters. Until one of its beautiful groups of waxy, cream-coloured blooms appears on top of the first straight stalk no branching can begin. The new arm can start to develop and take off in any direction, thus giving the Joshua tree its unique profile.
– The biggest multi-branched Joshua trees may be 600 to 1000 years in age.
– It is important for the survival of the species that a seed drop into a protective bush, for the tender seedling is a favourite of mule deer, squirrels, rabbits, and wood rats. These protective bushes are called “nurse plants,” and if the sprout can survive two or three years, its own spiky leaves can then resist most hungry animals.
What an amazing park!!!!!