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The Joshua Tree – A Desert Survivalist

The Joshua tree, named by Mormon pioneers after their prophet, is the signature plant of the Mojave Desert. This is the only place in the world it is found. It is an evergreen plant that can reach a height of 40 feet and live for upwards of 200 years.

It endures the harsh, dry desert environment through several adaptations. When it rains in the desert, the upward reaching needle-like leaves direct the water to the main trunk into the soil where shallow roots absorb the water and the deeper tap roots store it.

The Joshua Tree has ways to reduce the loss of moisture from transpiration (evaporation of water from the plant). Any plant with needle-like leaves limits water loss due to a reduced surface area. The leaves also have a waxy coating that helps lessen water loss.

This resilient plant is indicative of how many desert plants survive the arid desert habitat.

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