Yucca brevifolia, (Yucca brevifolia ssp. brevifolia, western population) is the hallmark species of the Mojave Desert. The Joshua Tree is a plant species belonging to the genus Yucca. It is tree-like in habit, which is reflected in its common name. It is found mostly in Mojave Desert, between 1,300 and 5,900 feet in elevation.
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.