A couple weeks ago I shared some photos of wildflowers from my trip to Death Valley National Park. Since we were in California for National Parks week, we figured we might as well visit Joshua Tree National Park while we were at it. We were perhaps a little bit different from the normal crowd that visits Joshua Tree – we’re no rock climbers, mind you – but we (and probably especially me) once again enjoyed the diversity of plant life we found there.
Naturally we saw many of the namesake Joshua Trees (Yucca brevifolia), but to my surprise they weren’t exactly ubiquitous across all areas of the park. I’m not sure if elevation is the only factor in where they are found, but they were definitely most abundant around the 4000 ft above sea level elevation mark. Though its name implies that it is a “tree”, it is not woody, nor does it have growth rings. Rather, it’s fibrous inside because it grows from layers and layers of leaves.
We also saw lots of cactus; beavertail cactus like at Death Valley, mound cactus, barrel cactus. There is even a cactus garden in the Park that is entirely teddy bear cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia bigelovii). Don’t be fooled by the name, it’s definitely no teddy bear I would want to hug.
Near the cactus garden is an ocotillo patch (Fouquieria splendens). Not actually a cactus, it has adapted to only grow leaves after sufficient rainfall but otherwise remains dormant.
Besides cactus, and cactus-look alikes, we also saw palm trees, more phacelia, interesting shrubs like the paperbag plant, and all sorts that I either didn’t take a picture of (shocking!) or I can’t remember their names.
What are some of your favorite wildflowers? Desert or mountainous, coastal or inland, I like to see (and wish I knew) them all!