Members of the agave family, Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) are a slow-growing, succulent evergreen. Upright grows, and many do not branch, although most have branches. The tree is native to the United States, growing in the wild out of California to Nevada, Arizona and Utah. The tree produces lovely flowers and massive fruits, and thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 10.
After young, Joshua trees resemble several other sorts of yucca plants like Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera), with long, sword-like green leaves that are somewhat rigid. Finally, this grower can generate a central stalk, and may reach a height of around 40 feet. At first, the plant grows rapidly, but after five years, Joshua trees add 1/2 inch each year, according to the Joshua Tree National Park site. Unlike trees, the age of a Joshua tree is usually estimated by dividing the height. Trees bloom in spring, should they bloom in any way. Trees that do not bloom never develop branches. Flowering trees produce candelabra-like branches.
Flowers and Pollination
Joshua trees generally bloom as early as February, and might continue flowering through May. The tree occasionally flowers in the winter, too. Flowers are pastel green to creamy bell-shaped and white, appearing in terminal clusters on the branches. The blossoms are faintly aromatic and has to be pollinated by the yucca moth to set fruit. The blossoms dried to use in cooking, or are edible, and might be roasted and eaten like candy.
Berries, which are shaped follow flowers and may grow more than 3 inches in diameter. Fruits are green, but can also be brown or reddish. The fruit might appear any time from spring to summer. Left on the tree, the fruits fall into the floor, where the impact can split them open, scattering the seeds and will eventually become brittle. Where they fall, seeds not eaten by wildlife can germinate. The fruit is edible and may be chopped and seeded, then eaten fresh, or dried. The seeds may be eaten raw or roasted.
Joshua trees may grow in soil that is moist, but like dry soil and long summers. Plant the trees and ensure that the soil has good drainage to prevent root, collar and crown rots. Joshua trees possess a high tolerance for drought. Soil helps provide the nutrients Joshua trees demand for the best flowering and fruit production, but the tree doesn’t mind growing in soils that are poor or sandy. The tree grows best with a soil pH level of between 5.6 and 7.8 and spaced 4 to 6 ft apart. Watch for scale bugs, mealybugs and weevils.