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The Western subspecies of Joshua tree – found in Southern California and southwestern Nevada – has a main stem that makes the plant appear more like a tree than a yucca. Mormon pioneers named the tree after Joshua, who the Bible says led the Israelites into Canaan. To the 19th century settlers, the outstretched limbs appeared to mimic prayer.

The Joshua tree is an iconic symbol of the Southwest - and now, the Western Joshua tree is the first plant given protections under the California Endangered Species Act because of the effects of climate change. Read more»