Yucca brevifolia is a plant species belonging to the genus Yucca. It is tree-like in habit, which is reflected in its common names: Joshua tree, yucca palm, tree yucca, and palm tree yucca.
This monocotyledonous tree is native to arid southwestern North America in the states of California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, where it is confined mostly to the Mojave Desert between 400 and 1,800 m elevation. It thrives (and is the namesake for) in the open grasslands of Queen Valley and Lost Horse Valley in Joshua Tree National Park. A dense Joshua tree forest also exists in Mojave National Preserve, in the area of Cima Dome.
Joshua trees are fast growers for the desert; new seedlings may grow at an average rate of 7.6 cm (3.0 in) per year in their first ten years, then only about 3.8 cm (1.5 in) per year. The trunk consists of thousands of small fibers and lacks annual growth rings, making it difficult to determine the tree's age. This tree has a top-heavy branch system, but also what has been described as a "deep and extensive" root system, with roots reaching up to 11 m (36 ft). If it survives the rigors of the desert, it can live for hundreds of years; some specimens survive a thousand years. The tallest trees reach about 15 m (49 ft). New plants can grow from seed, but in some populations, new stems grow from underground rhizomes that spread out around the parent tree.