“In the scenic desert backcountry of southeast California, vibrant wildlife chirp and skitter in oases, fantastic rock formations glow under spectacular candy-colored sunsets, and a dazzling star-filled night sky illuminates campgrounds. Across the rolling hills, a legion of Joshua trees, Yucca brevifolia, seems to beckon visitors with their limbs raised to the heavens.

Joshua Tree National Park’s (JTNP) eponymous trees, which brought this unique landscape its well-deserved fame, have captured visitors’ imaginations since the native Serrano and Chemehuevi peoples painted pictographs of the flora centuries ago. Mormon pioneers en route to California in the 1850s are said to have nicknamed the trees in honor of Joshua raising his hands in prayer and pointing the way to the promised land. Explorer John Fremont, less impressed, described the Joshuas as “the most repulsive trees in the vegetable kingdom.” The band U2, inspired by the Joshua trees’ noble resilience amid harsh conditions, named its best-selling album after the hardy plant…”

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