Joshua trees are cousins to lilies, home to moths and woodpeckers


Who hasn’t spent at least a moment today wondering about the relationship between the Joshua tree and moths?

Like all yuccas, the Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) has a symbiotic relationship with the Pronuba moth. This small nocturnal creature feeds on the pollen of the Joshua tree’s flowers; the female then lays her eggs inside them. She next pollenates the flower to ensure the fertilization that will sustain her offspring, which as larvae feed off of the young seeds.

The woody trunks of Joshua trees provide sanctuary to woodpeckers.

Although some contend that the wood isn’t worth much as fuel, the naturalist and photographer Charles Francis Saunders, who lived in Pasadena, waxed eloquent on its other merits, writing in the Pacific Monthly, “The trunks of this tree-lily are employed in a limited way in the Southwest in building cattle corrals, and the sawn wood, which is porous, light and devoid of grain, is utilized in the manufacture of a number of specialties, such as artificial limbs, book covers, surgeon’s splints and sheaths for the protection of young trees from the teeth of hungry rabbits.”


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