The Times podcast: Drought threatens iconic plants. Lawns, watch out

A saguaro cactus silhouetted against a cloudy sky
Saguaro cactuses, which grow only in the Sonoran Desert, rely on summer rain to reproduce.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Today, in Episode 3 of Drought Week, we take a journey through the American Southwest to Las Vegas, down to Arizona’s Sonoran Desert and through California’s Mojave Desert. We speak to a social scientist, a folklorist and a politician about their efforts to understand the plants and animals affected by this historic drought. We’ll focus on three iconic plants: Joshua trees. Saguaro cactuses. And, well, lawn grass.


After that, pistol shooter Alexis Lagan describes the discipline of her sport and how she came to represent the United States at the Tokyo Olympics.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: Nevada state Assemblymember Howard Watts III, University of Arizona anthropologist Maribel Alvarez, University of Arizona research social scientist David Yetman, L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez and pistol shooter Alexis Lagan

More reading:

Imagine no Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park

Is California ready for brown lawns and shorter showers?

From the archives: With giant cactuses and sleek jaguars, Arizona’s Sonoran Desert has an edgy beauty


Listen to more episodes of The Times here

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, producer Shannon Lin, senior producer Denise Guerra and editors Lauren Raab and Shani O. Hilton. Our intern is Ashlea Brown. Special thanks to Asal Ehsanipour and Nani Sahra Walker. Our engineer is Mario Diaz and our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.