Joshua Trees and Wild Palms

April 24, 2008

We spent last weekend at Joshua Tree National Park, hiking among the giant yuccas and granite tors and  photographing blooming cacti and Mojave wildflowers that were new to me.  The park is not grazed, so desert plants are astonishingly abundant, diverse, and healthy:  wildflowers, flowering shrubs, cacti, desert trees, and of course the famous giant yuccas.  I put a few photos from our trip on this page:

I especially enjoyed the hike to the 49 Palms Oasis.  The trail wanders over rocky desert hills covered in brittlebush and barrel cacti, offering occasional tantalizing glimpses of a cluster of native Fan Palms (Washingtonia filifera) glittering green in the morning light.  Once among them, I was amazed at their size.  This tree is cultivated throughout the Southwest, but the wild ones have much more presence – they are taller and their trunks are more supple.  The huge leaves create a cool wind that constantly stirs them with surf noises, yet their shade holds the same ancient peace that I found among the tiny palmettos on the North Carolina coast.  On the way home, southern California’s blasted emptiness (largely man-made) hit me full force, and the memory of the tiny, fragile palm oasis became all the more precious.

The golden glow of this Blazing Star (Menzelia involucrata) captures the Mojave desert light very well:

Blazing Star


One Response to “Joshua Trees and Wild Palms”

  1. judithornot said

    Am glad you got to visit Joshua Tree. I went there several times back in the 1970s, but am sure I’d see it with different eyes now.

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