With a couple of taps from a pole, Joshua tree seed pods fell from the end of a branch onto the dry desert ground below.
Inside the pods were neat rows of about 250 round black seeds, each with the promise of growing into a new Joshua tree.

“When they first come up, they almost look like a grass and then they very slowly get bigger,” said Madena Asbell, the Mojave Desert Land Trust’s director of plant conservation programs.

Asbell and a team of about 10 volunteers collect Joshua tree and other native plant seeds from the land trust’s 32,000 acres in the Mojave and Colorado deserts. The native plants are in danger but the team has a plan to help: collect the seeds and store them in refrigerators until they’re needed to repopulate an area destroyed by fire, another disaster or even climate change. The seeds could also be crucial in reintroducing plant species that become extinct.



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