Evidence of the devastating effects of climate change is surfacing every day, and recent research highlights a new casualty: the iconic Joshua tree. It seems the hardy desert plant, belonging to the yucca family, can easily face long periods without rainwater when they mature, yet the seedlings need more TLC (tender loving care) from the environment. The ongoing drought in Southern California and other parts of the southwest US is taking a toll on this otherwise resilient tree.
National Geographic reported on the findings, which show how the plant’s roots are its vulnerability. When big and strong, the mature trees use their shallow networks of roots to immediately soak up rainwater, keeping them hydrated enough to survive on a biannual rainy season. The seedlings, however, need far more regular rain to survive into adulthood.
It is estimated that California’s drought conditions and future climate change predictions may decimate the Joshua trees’ range by up to 90 percent by the year 2100. The Joshua Tree National Park is home to countless numbers of its namesake plants. Nat Geo reports, “Under that scenario, [the tree] would exist only in isolated pockets, called refugia, scattered across the 800,000-acre national park.” If new trees are unable to take root and survive, future generations will not likely see the the Joshua tree in its current glory.
Via Good Magazine