Hit the Ground Running….Or Should I Say Transplanting

Josh Poland

August 21, 2020

Hello everyone! My name is Josh Poland, 1 of the 4 interns here in Boulder City, NV working on the Joshua Tree Genome Project. It’s been over a month since my move from northwest Arkansas to Southern Nevada and I have to say, they are quite different places to live. In Arkansas, summer days with 90% humidity was not uncommon and would leave you sweating bullets within minutes of walking outside. In Nevada however, it works much differently. While the humidity never exceeds 10%, walking outside (no matter what time of day) is like sticking your face near an open oven. Fall cannot get here soon enough.

The past month has been a whirlwind of information, training, zoom meetings, and data collecting. We have gone from breaking apart Joshua Tree fruits in a small basement in our house, to working in a USGS owned Greenhouse with hundreds upon hundreds of Joshua Tree seeds. Making the move from the basement to the greenhouse, the other interns and I were told that the seeds we had collected would begin to germinate in 10-12 days, plenty of time for us to set up planter trays (that we would eventually transplant the seeds into) as well as set up an organized plan of collecting and recording data. But being 2020, those plans changed very quickly one weekend when we discovered the first radicles emerging just 2 days after being planted. Needless to say, we were a little stressed out.

One of our Joshua Tree seedlings

But that was over a week and a half ago and things have (slightly) calmed down. Since the first radicle emerged, the other interns and I have worked from sunup ‘till sundown building and filling planter crates, collecting germination data, continuing upkeep on the seeds and the greenhouse, and creating seemingly endless excel spreadsheets pertaining to seed growth. It has been difficult work, but it has been rewarding work. I walk into the greenhouse every morning to see new radicles, hypocotyls, or cotyledons emerging from the trays and I can’t help but get a little giddy. In the craziness that the world has experienced in 2020, it’s quite a feeling to see these plants growing so well and gives me hope for their populations in the future.

As of today (August 21, 2020), we have finished transplanting 1,600 Joshua Tree Seedlings and have up-to-date data of their growth, transplanting dates, and their location in the greenhouse. We have an estimated 49 deaths so far and replacement seeds from the same matriline will soon be transplanted in their place. While it seems that the “rush” is over for now, we will continue to be vigilant with observations and data entry so we can continue forward with as little stress as possible.

Transplanting JT seeds into planter crates

Thank you all for reading, and now it is time for me and the other interns to enjoy a long-awaited break!

Until next time!

Josh Poland