Cacti and Joshua Tree National Park
The images of the Mojave and Joshua Tree National Park from my last trip there are still fresh in my mind. The people are few and fascinating, the landscape enchanting, and the overlapping issues of strained resources, climate change, economic juggling, and sheer wildness make up a rich and unraveling saga. The cacti are the soldiers of this rugged country.
I learned that because of the warmer winters in recent years, there have been die-offs of the Joshua trees that require freezing winters to regenerate and germinate. It’s impossible to imagine a Joshua Tree National Park without Joshua trees.
There was another thing that caught my eye – certain cacti only grew in patches where the conditions are just right. The fuzzy-looking cholla, which I just saw featured prominently in the new movie Seven Psychopaths, only grows where there is the right amount of sun and soil minerals so only certain bands in the alluvial fan of the park can support them.
Throughout the park are pieces of information about the Cahuilla people who thrived in the dessert. Their complex use of plants made me want to learn much more – it seems that all needs can be met with something that grows.
When you visit Joshua Tree National Park, I recommend staying in Joshua Tree at 29 Palms Inn with its very own garden fed by the only private oasis in the area, the Oasis of Mara. The water tastes so pure, it is hard to drink without expressing glee.