As a CLM intern I have learned so much about the desert that I’d like to briefly list some of the more interesting factoids –
-The Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) recieved its common name from Mormon immigrants, thinking its branches resembed Joshua raising his hands to the sky. Its fruits were once consumed by the extinct Shasta ground sloth (Nothrotheriops shastense); the branches descending presumably to allow the sloths easy access to its fruits. It’s theorized that the sloths were the primary seed distributor of the Joshua Tree.
-Picking up a desert tortoise will cause it to defensively urinate, causing it to become dangerously dehydrated.
-Coyotes need no source of standing water. They can get all the water they need from their food.
-The desert is most beautiful at dawn and dusk. This is irrefutable.
-The ghost town of Rice, California was an old stopping point for steam engines to replenish their water supplies. Now it is the site of the states most famous fence; decorated with old shoes donated by passersby.
-The Salton Sea supports around 30 percent of the North American pelican population.
After learning all this, the famous line from Lawrence of Arabia, “There is nothing in the desert, and no man needs nothing” sounds so hollow! Over the last few weeks I’ve been focusing on getting as many seed collections as possible before the conclusion of my internship next month.
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden