When the Spanish missionaries hit the West Coast in the 18th Century, they brought more than Catholicism. They brought the symbol of the good life, an image that conjures up visions of Hollywood hedonism, beach bums and convertibles filled with blonds. The missionaries brought the palm tree. Or at least the Canary Island date palm, the thick-trunk, mop-top palm seen all over Los Angeles, right. The only palm tree indigenous to the area, the California or desert fan, left, grows only in about 150 fan palm oases throughout the Southwest such as Palm Canyon, Palm Springs and Joshua Tree. (They also dot the San Andreas Fault in RiversideCounty--the roots can draw needed water through the ruptured earth). Of course, the good fathers and brothers didn’t know they were creating an icon; they just wanted the fronds . . . to use on Palm Sunday, of course.