Native to the Mojave Desert, the twisted, spiky Joshua A 2.5 million-year-old tree is actually a succulent called Yucca brevifolia, and it takes many different forms. Some trees are full and bushy, while others are spindly and open in shape. They are an important part of the Mojave ecosystem, providing habitat for numerous birds, mammals, insects, and lizards. However, research has indicated that only 0.02% of the tree’s current habitat in Joshua Tree National Park will remain viable in the future due to climate change by the end of the century.
This is because as it gets hotter, there is less reproduction in Joshua trees. Another issue is that invasive grasses have completely changed the fire regimes in the Mojave Desert, carrying fires from tree to tree. Considering these threats, the California Fish and Game Commission determined that listing the western Joshua tree as threatened or endangered under CESA may be warranted. If listed, it will no longer be legal to damage, remove or cut down any of the trees without a permit or special permission. The committee is beginning a one-year status review of the species and will make a final decision at a future meeting.