A tall branching yucca plant (Yucca brevifolia) of the southwest United States, having large clusters of greenish-white flowers.
A tree (Yucca brevifolia) of the agave family, found in the SW U.S. and characterized by branches that are extended grotesquely like upraised arms and by dagger-shaped, spine-tipped leaves.
Origin of joshua-tree
- Probably after Joshua from the resemblance of the tree's greatly extended branches to Joshua's outstretched arm as he pointed with his spear to the city of Ai (Joshua 8:18)
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
- Apparently from the resemblance of the tree to Joshua holding out his spear.