Yucca Brevifolia

Or, the Joshua Tree.  My observatory is located near the Joshua Tree National Park, made famous by the band U2 when they stayed there and were inspired to write the album of the same name.

Legend has it that Mormon pioneers named the tree after the biblical figure, Joshua, seeing the limbs of the tree as outstretched in supplication, guiding the travelers westward.

This time of year is special for Joshua tree lover’s.  This is the time of year that the Joshua tree flowers bloom.  The flowers are called panicles which are 30–55 cm tall and 30–38 cm broad, tall, with six creamy white to green tepals (in other words, a branched cluster of flowers).

2013-03-09 07.29.49

Joshua trees usually do not branch until after they bloom (though branching may also occur if the growing tip is destroyed by the yucca-boring weevil), and they do not bloom every year.  Like most desert plants, their blooming is dependent on rainfall at the proper time. They also need a winter freeze before they will bloom.  Luckily, we had everything that many of the trees needed this year.

File:Joshua trees.jpg

Once they bloom, the trees are pollinated by the yucca moth, which spreads pollen while laying eggs inside the flower. The moth larvae feed on the seeds of the tree, but enough seeds are left behind to produce more trees. The Joshua tree is also able to actively abort ovaries in which too many eggs have been laid.

Joshua trees grow fast for desert plants.  New seedlings may grow at an average rate of 7.6 cm (3.0 in) per year in their first ten years, then grow about 3.8 cm (1.5 in) per year thereafter.  Some of the Joshua tree have been around for hundreds of years with some surviving up to a thousand years.  The tallest trees reach about 15 m (49 ft).  At one inch a year, that is about as fast as continental drift

So here are some pictures I took this past weekend, while not preparing to do the marathon, and barely getting a glimpse of comet PANSTARRS.  All in all, it was still a good time.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +.  If you need help with any patent, trademark, or copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.


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