The End of Joshua Trees?

courtesy USGS

courtesy USGS

As a native Southern Californian with a deep attachment to its deserts, this paper is just heartbreaking. Lesley DeFalco of the USGS and colleagues describe the effect of variable climate extremes and wildfire in the last decade on populations of desert plants, most especially Yucca brevifolia – the Joshua Tree:

Accentuated ENSO episodes and more frequent wildfires are expected for the desert Southwest and will likely shift Y. brevifolia population structure toward tall, old adults with fewer opportunities for plant recruitment, thus imperiling the persistence of this unique plant community.

One Comment

  1. Bummer! When I landscaped a front yard in Tempe, AZ, I had a Joshua tree (I know, wrong desert), a saguaro, ocotillos, barrel cacti, etc. Very nice plants. They were all thriving when I sold the house and moved to CO. Probably now replaced by bluegrass in typical Phoenix fashion.

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