Yucca brevifolia Engelm.
Joshua Tree, Yucca Palm, Tree Yucca, Palm Tree Yucca
It is hard to believe, but Joshua trees are yuccas. The common name derives from a group of Mormon settlers, one of whom felt that the tree’s upward-pointing branches reminded him of a biblical story about Joshua, arms upraised in prayer. These trees are natives of the southwestern United States.
Identification: Joshua trees are found alone or in groves on desert plains, slopes and mesas in the Mojave Desert, or Queen Valley and Lost Horse Valley in Joshua Tree National Park. It is found at elevations of 2000-6000' (609-1828 m). Trees are 15-40' (4.6-12 m) high, and 12-36" (30-91 cm) around. Bell-shaped, cream-colored blossoms are 1¼-1½" (3.2-3.8 cm) around. They occur in dense clusters up to 18" (45 cm) long. Fruits are light brown to reddish capsules, 2½-5" (6.3-12 cm) × 2" (5 cm), with six cells.
See the Yucca page for a comparison with other yuccas.
Yucca brevifolia on Wikipedia
Yucca brevifolia on DesertUSA: Exploring the Southwest
Yucca brevifolia on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database
Yucca brevifolia on Wikimedia Commons (extensive photos)
Yucca brevifolia on CalPhotos (more photos)
Yucca brevifolia description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.
Range: Zones 7-10: