You take a step backward and feel a sharp pain in your calf. You turn: a plant with swollen stems and sharp spines has invaded your personal space, puncturing your skin. You suppress a curse, opting for something milder. "Stupid cactus!" But is it a cactus?
From the Joshua trees and saguaros to the raggedy chollas, there are a lot of odd-looking plants in the desert. You'll have to get out of your car and look around to really get to know one of the oddest.
If the Mojave Desert gets some rain in the next six weeks, then we might just see one of the desert's least-understood phenomena take place, as Joshua trees work to create a new generation of themselves.
All life on earth, every thing that lives and has ever lived, every bird and beetle and box elder tree shares a common ancestor. We are each and every one of us related, each and every one of us the front of an impossibly ancient flood of genes rising from a single spring.
The Mojave has long stood in, in the public mind, for barrenness, an impression reinforced by generations of forbidding location shots in westerns and other films, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
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