Extensive stands of Joshua Tree National Park’s peculiar namesake plants are festooned with clumps of white and yellow flowers that are drawing tourists eager to take in the scenery before the bloom wilts in the harsh desert sun.
“It’s one of the most prolific blooms we’ve seen in recent years,” interpretive park ranger Bret Greenheck said. “The bloom peaked a week ago at lower elevations, but trees on higher groundare still producing flowers.”
“Some biologists think Joshua Trees bloom like this in response to stressful conditions such as drought,” Greenheck said. “We haven’t reached average precipitation rates for this area in several years.”
There are an estimated 2.5 million of the trees scientists know as Yucca brevifolia within the 800,000-acre park, which normally receives between 2 to 5 inches of rain a year. This year, however, “we’ve gotten about 7/10 of an inch of rain,” Greenheck said.
Park officials expect the bloom to last another two to three weeks.