Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Greetings from the Mojave Desert!

Not an unknown sight, but rare enough that I have only seen it a few times despite living my early life near by: snow in the western Mojave. Caught the picture going 65 mph on the way to Arizona for some Christmas visits. The desert between Mojave and Barstow is composed of granite and metamorphic bedrock, with occasional exposures of volcanic rock, but mostly the landscape is gentle hills and wide alluvium-filled valleys. And pretty when the snow falls.

The unusual looking plant is a Joshua tree, so named because the early Mormon settlers in the region recalled Joshua holding his arms towards the heavens. It is a member of the lily family. I have run across recent studies that suggest that the range of the tree is declining because the seeds were once dispersed in part by ground sloths, which went extinct in this region at the end of the ice ages.


Silver Fox said...

Nice, and unusual, photo of the Mojave - I've never seen it with snow!

Andrew Alden, Oakland Geology blog said...

A minor point, but one I confirmed by reading the book of Joshua: Joshua had his arms raised because he was lifting javelins into the air as God had commanded him to do for the seige of the city of Ai. When his army had taken the city, they tore it down, laid the king of Ai's dead ass there by the side of the road and covered it with a big heap of stones. I've always felt that the stones of Joshua Tree National Park also helped inspire the tree's name.