[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Cloudy
Cloudy
57°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
April 25
1891 - President Benjamin Harrison stops at Saugus Depot, dines at Tolfree's Saugus Eating House [story]


Take a Hike | Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Oct 26, 2014

DianneErskineHellrigelThe largest species of yucca is the Joshua tree. It lives primarily in the Mojave Desert but can also be found in a small part of the Sonoran Desert, in the pine forest in the San Bernardino Mountains, and in a little corner of Utah. It grows at 2,000 to 6,000 feet.

Archaeological evidence dates the tree to the Pliocene epoch, more than 2 million years ago. Then, the climate was warm and moist and supported widespread groves of Joshua trees. I’ve heard tell that with global warming, our area will have warm, moist, humid weather like Hawaii. Maybe this will be enough to save some of the Joshua trees.

These evergreens can range from 15 to 40 feet tall when mature. They take up to 60 years to reach maturity, and they commonly live up to 150 years. The oldest tree on record was estimated to be 1,000 years old. It was 80 feet tall. Their growth rate is slow, estimated at one-half to 2-1/2 inches per year.

IMG_9105It is not a true tree. It does not produce annual tree rings, so it is difficult to tell the exact age of the plant. The best guess is to measure the height and divide it by the probable growth rate.

This plant was useful to indigenous peoples. Leaves were woven into baskets and made into sandals and cordage, and the flowers, buds and seeds were eaten. Later, the wood was used as a source of fuel for steam engines and fence posts.

The protracted drought is killing the Joshua trees.

The protracted drought is killing the Joshua trees.

Although the plant likes dry, sandy soil, the trees are overly stressed due to our 20-year drought. In fact, entire groves of Joshua trees are dying out.

Joshua trees depend upon perfect conditions. They like spring rains and a winter freeze. They have been barely surviving without either condition being met in many areas. Many groves are weak and dying.

The Joshua tree is one of the indicator species that is expected to have a range reduction and shift with climate change. Conservationists are concerned there could be up to a 90-percent loss of their current range by the end of this century.

Thirteen thousand years ago, when the plant faced climate change and range reduction, the giant sloth ate the leaves and seed pod, effectively moving the seeds from one place to another and establishing new groves. Today, we don’t have the sloth to move those seeds around. No other animal eats the seeds and transports them.

IMG_9095The Joshua tree is important to the desert ecosystem. Birds such as the Scott’s oriole can be found nesting in the branches, wood rats nesting below and using the spiny leaves for protection, night lizards and rattlesnakes living in a pile of dead branches.

The Joshua tree propagates by the root and seeds, as well. If the tree is downed by fire or flood, the root will send up new shoots. Seeds require germination by the yucca moth. The yucca moth pollinates the flowers and lays her eggs at the same time. The larvae hatch and eat some of the seeds, so the moth and the Joshua tree are dependent upon one another for survival.

The next time you drive up Interstate 5, keep your eyes peeled for a small stand of Joshua trees. A few years ago, this was a thriving grove. Now, there are only a few alive. We may be witnessing the beginning of the end of the Joshua tree.

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. If you’d like to be part of the solution, join the Community Hiking Club’s Stewardship Committee. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

IMG_9084

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

5 Comments

  1. I am actually in Yucca Valley/Joshua Tree this weekend :)

  2. Linda Pippin says:

    Sad news about the Joshua Tree.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Monday, Apr 16, 2018
The best way to fight kidney disease is to find it before trouble starts. But if you’ve already been diagnosed, Medicare can help you make informed decisions about your care.
Thursday, Apr 12, 2018
In 2016, California voters went to the polls and made it clear they wanted elected state officials to spend more money on school construction and passed Proposition 51 to invest $9 billion to upgrade aging buildings, build new schools where needed and build Career Technical Education (CTE) facilities to support better CTE programs.
Wednesday, Apr 11, 2018
Despite voter approval of construction funds in 2016, school districts are struggling to explain to their communities why the state is refusing to release the majority of the money.
Tuesday, Apr 3, 2018
“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” — Frank Lloyd Wright
Monday, Apr 2, 2018
Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste and the City Council invite residents to celebrate the 25th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, which officially kicks off April 19.
Friday, Mar 16, 2018
Quentin Kopp, retired judge and Bay Area politician, was once chairman of the High-Speed Rail Authority and helped sell the bullet train to voters. He’s now suing to stop it, saying, "The litigation, which is pending, will result, I am confident, in the termination of the High-Speed Rail Authority's deceiving plan."

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
College of the Canyons hit three home runs to power past Victor Valley College 10-2 on Tuesday, keeping the Cougars' conference championship hopes alive.
Cougars Power Past Victor Valley 10-2
College of the Canyons finished its conference schedule a perfect 16-0 by beating Barstow College 6-2 after 'Sophomore Day' ceremonies at Whitten Field.
Canyons Clinches Division Championship With 6-2 Win Over Barstow
College of the Canyons' men's golf team had all five players finish in the top-five of the individual standings on the way to a 35-stroke team victory at Western State Conference No. 10 on Monday at San Dimas Golf Course.
COC Men’s Golf Team Crushes Competition at WSC No. 10
The College of the Canyons Cougars closed out their three-game series with conference leader Glendale College, downing the Vaqueros 5-2 on Saturday to finish the weekend one game back with three to go.
Canyons Takes Series With 5-2 Win Over Glendale
The SCV Senior Center's Scholar Series will present a historical reenactment of American educator, author and journalist Laura Ingalls Wilder performed by Louise Willard of the American Association of University Women on Friday, April 27, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
April 27: Senior Center to Present Historical Reenactment of ‘Little House’ Author
In a unanimous 4-0 vote Tuesday night, the Santa Clarita City Council appointed former Logix Federal Credit Union Chief Operating Officer and Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation board member Philip M. Hart to fill a position on the city's five-member Planning Commission.
City Council Appoints Phil Hart to Planning Commission
California State University, Northridge gender and women’s studies students and queer studies students will present their capstone research projects about the cultural aspects of sexuality and gender to students, faculty, staff and members of the community on Tuesday, May 1, and Wednesday, May 2, at the university.
May 1-2: CSUN 5th Annual ‘Sex in the Library’ Event
The California Senate Committee on Public Safety voted 4-1 Tuesday to approve Senate Bill 1024, the Animal Cruelty and Violence Intervention Act of 2018, introduced by Senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, as a way to address the undeniable link between animal abuse and violence towards humans.
Wilk Animal Cruelty Intervention Act OK’d by Committee
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Foundation hosted a recognition and appreciation dinner on April 19 for the dedicated men and women who volunteer with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
SCV Sheriff’s Foundation Honors Local Volunteers
Brandon Gold didn’t allow a run over seven innings, and the JetHawks hit two home runs to support him in a 9-3 win over the Visalia Rawhide on Tuesday night at Recreation Park.
Solid Gold Gets Third Win with Help from Bats
Rep. Steve Knight (R-Antelope Valley) introduced H.R. 5610, the bipartisan Better Energy Storage Technology Act, on Wednesday, seeking to establish innovation goals to develop large-scale commercially viable energy storage technology.
Knight Introduces Bill to Boost Energy Storage Development
Cannabis management officials from LA County and the city of LA offer advice to people seeking employment as retail cannabis budtenders.
Cannabis Officials Offer Job Tips for Aspiring Budtenders
An Arleta man and his sister are happy to be alive after another driver shot at their vehicle eight times on Highway 14 near Crown Valley Road in the Acton area Tuesday night.
Assailant Shoots at Arleta Man, Woman on Highway 14
Senate Bill 1409, which would update current law to streamline the production of industrial hemp in California, has been passed by the Senate Committee on Public Safety.
Wilk Industrial Hemp Bill Unanimously Passes Senate Committee
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia has formed a new clinically integrated network — the Henry Mayo Care Network, LLC.
Henry Mayo Launches New Clinically Integrated Network
1891 - President Benjamin Harrison stops at Saugus Depot, dines at Tolfree's Saugus Eating House [story]
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency's Engineering Committee will be holding a meeting, Thursday, May 3, at 5:30 p.m.
May 3: SCV Water’s Engineering Committee Meeting
Building on the success and excitement surrounding LA’s first-ever Arts Datathon in 2017, the LA County Arts Commission (LACAC) presents Arts Datathon: Collections, which aims to explore collections data as a way to increase access to the arts.
April 27: LA County Arts Datathon Collections
The 24 members of the West Ranch High School percussion Ensemble will forever be known as world champions as they took home the top prize at the Winter Guard International (WGI) World Championships in Dayton, Ohio, this past weekend.
West Ranch Percussion Ensemble Returns Home as World Champions
Launched Jan. 1, 2018, California’s newest water agency, SCV Water, is already making progress on commitments of enhanced efficiencies and financial savings.
May 15: VIA Luncheon to Highlight SCV Water Agency
The fourth annual Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) Future Jazz Master Scholarship was awarded to trumpeter and CalArtian Sara Sithi-Amnuai (Music MFA 19).
CalArts Student Awarded Jazz Master Scholarship
NORTHRIDGE - CSUN Baseball (17-22) opens up a road-heavy stretch over the last five weeks of the regular season on Tuesday evening. For the second time this month, the Matadors will head to Fresno State to start a seven-game road trip. A video stream will be available on the Mountain West Network at 6:05 p.m.
Matadors to Start 7-Game Road Trip
Santa Clarita Artists Association's new show, Colors of Spring, will open on May 4, with a free reception, from 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. The exhibit will run until June 24, 2018.
May 4: Opening of Santa Clarita Artists Association’s ‘Colors of Spring’
SUN VALLEY - Mission Valley Bancorp (OTCQX: MVLY) President & CEO Tamara Gurney announces year to date net income of $1,384,000 for the period ended March 31, 2018 – the strongest first quarter in the history of the company.
Mission Valley Bancorp Records Best-Ever 1st Quarter
Flair Cleaners, Southern California’s leading eco-friendly dry cleaners, will host the third annual Flair Cares Spring Food Drive, May 1 – May 31.
May 1-31: Flair Cleaners Annual Spring Food Drive
West Coast auto racing enthusiasts, “Fast & Furious” fans and family and friends of the late actor Paul Walker are gearing up for the inaugural In Memory of Paul Car Hangout, set for College of the Canyons in Valencia on Sunday, May 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
May 20:  In Memory of Paul Walker Inaugural Car Hangout
The Placerita Canyon Nature Center will be holding its annual Open House, Saturday, May 12, from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
May 12: Placerita Canyon Nature Center Open House
BAKERSFIELD - College of the Canyons had a strong first-day showing at the Western State Conference (WSC) Swim & Dive Championships, with two of the men's relay teams performing strong enough to perhaps earn a trip to next month's state championship meet.
Cougars Head to Bakersfield after Strong WSC Showing
Santa Clarita Valley International, a free public charter school serving grades TK through 12, will host its annual “Expresstival” event, a celebration of student creativity, from 2:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Friday, April 27 at the school’s campus at 28060 Hasley Canyon Road in Castaic. This family-friendly event is free and open to the public.
April 27: Annual SCVi Charter’s ‘Expresstival’
Here is the Community Newhall (Zone 6) Crime Information & Public Safety Report for April 9 - 15:
Crime Blotter: Grand Theft, Petty Theft, Vehicle Burglary in Newhall
This year’s Coachella Valley Music Festival started out on a sour note for 135 concertgoers who received misdemeanor citations for fraudulently using disabled person parking placards.
DMV Issues More than 150 Disabled Parking Citations at Coachella
1962 - SCV residents vote to connect to State Water Project, creating CLWA [story]
Applications are now open for the summer 2018 LA County Arts Internship Program, which will provide 179 university and community college students with paid on-the-job experience at more than 100 arts organizations across LA County this summer.
County Expands Summer Arts Internships for College Students
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner has identified the man killed in a solo crash on Sierra Highway between Santa Clarita and Agua Dulce early Sunday morning as Brandon Scott Isaman, 31, of Palmdale.
Coroner ID’s Palmdale Man Killed in Solo Crash
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies arrested a Pine Mountain man on weapons and drug charges Thursday, an out-of-town resident for alleged possession of methamphetamine and a zip gun Friday night, and two locals for alleged possession of heroin for sale on Saturday morning.
SCV Crime Beat: Arrests for Heroin, Meth, Homemade Gun
With summer just around the corner, the city of Santa Clarita will hold a summer swim lesson assessment at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center, 20850 Centre Pointe Parkway, on Thursday, April 26, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
April 26, May 5: City to Hold Summer Swim Lesson Assessments