It's a Great Year For Joshua Tree Blooms

A Joshua tree blooms in the Morongo Basin | Chris Clarke photo

We crossed our fingers a few weeks back, and we got our wish: At least in the Eastern Mojave, this is one of the best bloom years for Joshua trees in living memory. For the last three weeks, most Joshua trees in the stretch of desert near Joshua Tree National Park have been putting out an historic level of bloom. That's likely to continue for a couple more weeks, making up for an otherwise uninspiring wildflower season through most of the desert.

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In a typical "good bloom" year, after the requisite cold and wet winter, maybe one Joshua tree in five will sport the tree's characteristic panicles of waxy cream-colored blooms. In the Morongo Basin north of Joshua Tree NP this year, that's more like four out of five trees bearing multiple panicles.

Like this scene in 2008, except all over | Photo: George Lamson/Flickr/Creative Commons License

According to David Lamfrom of the Mojave National Preserve Conservancy, it's much the same in the Joshua tree-bearing portions of the Preserve. (I'll be heading up that way next week to check for myself.) Rumor has it that the bloom in the Western Mojave isn't quite as profuse: if you know otherwise, drop us a note in comments.

Joshua tree blossoms last for a little while, so you don't quite need to drop everything and head out to the Eastern Mojave tomorrow morning to see them. Some of the flowers at around 3,000 feet are already spent, but there are plenty at higher elevations not yet open.

Don't wait too long, though: by mid-April, most of this historic bloom will be history.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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