Joshua Tree National Park

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Joshua Tree National Park, California (Photo: uncredited – Windows 10 Spotlight Image Series)

Why do they call it a Joshua tree anyway?

Although there is some debate and very little in the way of primary sources to validate the claim, the most commonly held belief about the origins of the name is addressed in the taxonomy section of the Wikipedia page dedicated to Yucca brevifolia, which is the scientific name of the Joshua tree:
The name Joshua tree was given by a group of Mormon settlers crossing the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The tree's unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer. Ranchers and miners who were contemporary with the Mormon immigrants used the trunks and branches as fencing and for fuel for ore-processing steam engines. It is also called izote de desierto (Spanish, "desert dagger").

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