The desert is full of life

Mojave National Preserve
Mojave National Preserve, 2017

Many people think the desert is desolate or empty, but that’s a cultural belief not an environmental fact. In truth, deserts are vibrant ecosystems, home to a multitude of plants and animals, many that are found nowhere else. Deserts often represent some of the most intact remaining ecosystems because they are inappropriate for agriculture and so were passed by. Now, they are in danger from industrial energy projects including solar and wind farms, lithium mining and other resource extraction. It is more important than ever that we appreciate and protect these unique places.

So on this website, I am sharing photos from my time in the Mojave Desert. I’ve set it up like a field guide sorted by flower color and by plant family for ease of identification. Each plant entry contains information on life cycle, habitat, Native American use, animal associations, and more. (See “About the plant entries.”) My chief interest is in educating people about how precious the desert is, and inspiring them to help defend it from harm.

What is “Joshua Tree Country”?

“Joshua Tree Country” is not an official designation, but the range of the Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) corresponds nearly perfectly with the bounds of the Mojave Desert, which is located mostly in Southern California but also extends into the southern tip of Nevada, the southwestern edge of Utah and the northwestern corner of Arizona. On this website, “Joshua Tree Country” includes all that, plus two particular areas on its margins: the Pebble Plains Ecological Reserve in the San Bernardino Mountains and Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. The Pebble Plains hosts a few species found nowhere else on earth. Both places are well worth a visit if you find yourself in the area, especially in spring.

Map of Mojave Desert