According to the story, Joshua trees were named by Mormon pioneers crossing the Mojave Desert who thought the trees’ outstretched branches resembled the prophet Joshua waving them on to the promised land. These striking trees are mostly confined to the Mojave Desert, where the oldest trees can live up to a thousand years! To survive in the desert environment, the Joshua tree uses its deep and extensive root system to reach what little water is available in the parched soil.
Climate Change Impacts
Unlike the Mormon pioneers who named it, the Joshua tree cannot pack up and migrate to a new home if its habitat becomes unsuitable. To expand to new locations, the Joshua tree depended on the giant sloth to disperse its seeds—an animal that unfortunately went extinct 13,000 years ago. These relic trees literally have nowhere to go if global warming renders the Mojave desert unsuitable for its survival.
We are connected to each other, to our environment. From faraway places to our own backyard. But climate change is now changing the Earth as we know it, and animals and plants from the Arctic to the Everglades are feeling the consequences.