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Yucca brevifolia

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About Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) Joshua Tree is a native tree-like monocot that grows from southern California to Utah. Although it grows to tree size, it behaves like a Yucca in every other respect. It tends to grow in the high desert at elevations from 1600-6600 feet, though it grows up to 11,000 feet in the White and Inyo Mountains. It is exposed to lower winter temperatures than other parts of southern California. In locations where it is common, such as the Mojave Desert, it forms large colonies known as Joshua Tree Woodland. The leaves are stiff, long (6-9 inches), narrow and sharply pointed on the tips. The flowers are greenish-white held on a long panicle and pollinated by a moth. Around 25 species of birds use Joshua trees as nesting sites. Because of its slow growth rate and its very specific requirements, it is not often used in typical residential gardens. However, it could be a great choice for a larger garden in a desert or semi-desert area.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Shrub, Succulent

Max. Height
5 - 20 ft (1.5 - 6.1 m)

Max. Width
35 ft (10.7 m)

Rounded, Upright Columnar


Growth Rate


Flower Color
White, Green

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry places, high deserts such as the Mojave Desert, Antelope Valley, and portions of Death Valley National Park


Elevation ?
748' - 7544'

Annual Precip. ?
3.8" - 22.6"

Summer Precip. ?
0.20" - 2.65"

Coldest Month ?
33.9° F - 61.6° F

Hottest Month ?
61.4° F - 87.8° F

Humidity ?
2.30 vpd - 41.40 vpd

Soil Description
Requires fast draining, coarse grained alluvial soil

Soil PH
6.0 - 8.0


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to -20° F

Wildlife Attracted
Numerous birds and insects

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low, Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Rarely Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist


Propagation ?
From seeds.  For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Common uses
Hedges, Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens, Butterfly Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Joshua Tree Woodland

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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