Are the Trees From Joshua Tree and “One Tree Hill” Really BOTH Dead?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about music and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the music urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: Both the trees in Joshua Tree AND “One Tree Hill” have since died!

Yucca brevifolia is the technical term for the species of plant that grows in the American West that is more commonly known as either a Yucca palm or a Joshua Tree.

The term “Joshua Tree” comes from Mormon settlers who thought that the plant reminded them of a Bible story involving Joshua having his hands outstretched in prayer.

In any event, the plant was the title of the highly acclaimed hit 1987 album by U2, The Joshua Tree.

Photographer Anton Corbijn took a series of photos of the group in the Mojave Desert, centered on one “Joshua Tree” in particular, which you can see on the back cover of the original vinyl album…

and on this picture of the band (there are tons of photos of the band around the tree)…

On that same album, the song “One Tree Hill” appears…

This single was released only in New Zealand (in North America, the single was “God’s Country” – the photo on the cover is the same for both singles).

This was because the song was written about a New Zealand native, Greg Carroll, who was Bono’s personal assistant. He died in 1986 in a motorcycle accident (I believe he was retrieving Bono’s bike for him). The whole album was dedicated to Carroll, but specifically, this song was written for him and released as a single in Carroll’s homeland.

The location that the name of the song is taken from was One Tree Hill, a volcanic peak in Auckland, New Zealand. It is called “One Tree Hill” because a lone Monterey pine tree stood on the hill.

Well, amazingly enough, since the 1987 release of the album, BOTH trees have died!!!

The Joshua Tree fell of natural causes, it seems (climate change has been deadly for Joshua Trees).

The pine tree on top of One Tree Hill, however, was actually attacked with a chainsaw by a Maori protester in 1994 – after that point, the tree was basically in ruins – it was officially removed in October 2000.

The week it was removed in October 2000 was the same time that the Joshua Tree was found dead, halfway around the world (that tree was discovered dead then, but since no one was actually there when it fell, no one knows for sure WHEN it fell)!

Kinda spooky, huh?

The legend is…


Thanks to Steve Hall for the pictures of the fallen Joshua Tree!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is

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