• Sunrise at the Cholla Cactus Garden

    Joshua Tree

    National Park California

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  • Cottonwood Trails Closed

    Trail access remains closed to Cottonwood Spring Oasis, Lost Palms Oasis, and Mastodon Peak. More »

  • Pinto Basin Road Under Construction; Expect 30+ Minute Travel Delays

    Visitors should expect 30+ minute waits when heading north and sound bound on the Pinto Basin Road. Due to construction activity around Cottonwood Visitor Center, additional waits of 30 minutes may be in place when leaving the visitor center parking lot. More »

  • Deteriorating conditions of Black Rock Canyon Road

    The road leading to Black Rock campground has deep potholes, is deeply rutted, and can be difficult to negotiate, especially in large vehicles. Please drive with caution.

Plant Communities

Plant communities, or what we call "associations," describe groupings of various plant species that are often dependent upon latitude, soil characteristics, and elevation. Using these descriptions makes it easier to understand why certain plants only grow in certain places; it also helps to identify plants in unfamiliar terrain.

Plant associations within the park are divided into tree-dominated, shrub-dominated, herbaceous-dominated, and sparse/non-vegetated. Each association is named after the most conspicuous plant in the landscape.

Tree-dominated plant associations in Joshua Tree include: California juniper, singleleaf pinyon, Joshua tree, desert willow, ironwood, California fan palm, blue palo verde, smoketree, Gooding willow, Freemont cottonwood, and mesquite

Shrub-dominated associations are the most diverse group, numbering 49. Mormon tea, creosote bush, creosote bush/white bursage, blackbrush, brittlebush, cheesebush, Mojave yucca, teddy-bear cholla, and desert almond are just a few examples

Herbaceous-dominated associations are those communities that are mostly comprised of species like perennial bunch grasses or annual grasslands. Joshua Tree has two herbaceous-dominated associations: big galleta grass and cheatgrass.

Sparse associations include non-vegetated areas (e.g. desert pavement, rock outcrops, dunes, playas, washes, and disturbed areas) and areas with less than two percent shrub cover. These areas may be dominated by annual wildflowers during moist years, but normally appear devoid of vegetation.

Did You Know?

Wilderness Map

Joshua Tree National Park has over 550,000 acres of wilderness, offering visitors opportunities to explore where few others have ventured. More...