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Wind, Water, and Business: Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is an amazing place.  It sits at the confluence of the Colorado Desert ecosystem, and the Mojave Desert ecosystem.  From the high Mojave you descend thousands of feet to the Colorado.  And in between, there are a thousand changes.

The wonderful thing about these deserts, and this park, is the ways that they can instruct us.  The plants and animals here are adapted, and adaptable.  For instance:

  • Occotillo is a deciduous shrub, full of spines, which can leaf out and bloom as many as five times per year.  Its adaption is that it is not seasonal.  If leafs out and blooms when moisture is available.  When the moisture disappears, it drops its leaves and flowers, and appears to be dead.  The Occotillo is the guerilla marketer of the desert.  When opportunities present, it takes advantage.  When the climate turns inhospitable, it retreats.  Occotillo is an entreprenuer.
  • Creasote is another decidious shrub.  Unlike Occotillo, however, it tries to carve out a permanent position in the desert.  Creasote roots can decend for as much as 60 feet.  Creasote roots also secrete a resinous substance that prevents other plants from taking hold, and therefore competing for water.  Creasote is a long term resident, versus Occotillo’s guerilla strategy.  Creasote is an incumbent.
  • Joshua Tree (actually a Yucca) is a platform for the Mojave community.  Whether young or old, Joshua tree’s provide an environment for birds, moths, and termites to thrive in.  This symbiotic relationship allows the Joshua Tree to survive and prosper in a very inhospitable evnvironment.

And while the desert is an inhospitable, and highly competitive environment, perhaps the greatest lesson is in the geology of the Mojave.  Chunks of volcanic granite poke through pink gneiss throughout the region.  The gneiss, however, is soft and easily eroded, which results in the spectacular and bizarre rock formations common through Joshua National Park. 

Arch image

The above photograph is an HDR image of the arch at Arches viewpoint in Joshua National Park.  Aside from being a spectacular image, it’s also a reminder that even the most permanent structures can be eroded by very basic forces — in this case, wind and water.

What are the wind and water’s of your business?

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Joe Carter September 20, 2006, 1:34 am

    Very informative post. :) Joshua Tree definitely has some striking plants and rock formations.

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