Whenever my family and I travel, we always try to find a retreat where we can view plants and animals in their native habitats. This year, we decided to check out one of the wettest and one of the driest climates on the planet. First, we traveled to Carate, Costa Rica where we hiked through the jungle terrain of the Corcovado National Park. Located in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, this national park can receive almost 13 feet of rain per year. Besides the monkeys, scarlet macaws, and anteaters, we were able to view wild begonias, coconut palms, strangler figs and hundreds of other species. In Costa Rica’s warm, humid climate, there’s barely a crack or crevice that doesn’t have some type of plant life taking root. Check it out here.
On the other end of the eco-spectrum, we just returned from hiking the desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park in southern California. Stradling the Colorado and Mojave deserts, the park only receives about 3 inches of rain per year. It gets its name from the iconic, tree-like Yucca brevifolia that dominate the landscape. The plants were given the name Joshua Tree, by early Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave and thought the upward reaching branches reminded them of a Biblical story where Joshua reaches his arms up in prayer. For a desert plant, Joshua trees grow relatively quickly, often 3 inches per year. The foliage is spear-like and can be painful if you inadvertently walk into one as I did several times. Unlike Corcovado, the plant species at Joshua Tree were a lot more limited, but no less dramatic. Besides the Joshua Trees, you will also find creosote bush, ocotillo and cholla cactus. For more information check here.