Miley Cyrus criticized for posing in an endangered Joshua tree


Miley Cyrus has been all over both my Twitter and Instagram feeds. She’s posting shots of her in the desert in pools, on the phone, standing on the side of the road in last night’s prom dress and, of course, naked. The shots themselves are good and very Miley. The last round she posted, however, did not sit well with fans. Miley went further into the desert to take some nature shots in a bold-print bodysuit:

View this post on Instagram

Looking down at all the petty drama like…. 💜

A post shared by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) on

Keep her caption in mind as you read on. The outfit wasn’t the problem (although it should have been). The issue was that she sat in an endangered yucca tree, this particular one is known as a Joshua tree. The Joshua tree only grows in California and has fallen prey to climate change, like so many other flora. We are in danger of losing them. Yuccas have a shallow root system which makes them susceptible to being knocked over under weight and fans let her know. Some did so nicely:

“Please @mileycyrus do not climb Joshua trees. It is incredibly damaging to them. As a public figure it is your responsibility to set a good example to your followers so we can preserve these trees for generations to come.”

“Love you Miley, but please don’t share this photo of you climbing this yucca (crying emoji) Might encourage fans to do the same (teardrop emoji)”

“@mileycyrus You have the power for people to listen to you. Please bd (sic) mindful of your impact on the environment. These trees have a very shallow root system and if more and more ppl trample and climb, it may result in damaging the trees.”

[From Buzzfeed]

Others were not as gentle in their reproach:

“Dude this is photo and the fact that your flaunting these actions are not only disrespectful to the earth and the people who care to protect it but it’s also either so incredibly ignorant or selfish of you to do”

“Way to set a terrible example. These trees are incredibly fragile, with a very shallow root system.”

“Please stop posting these, all you are communicating is that your vanity is more important than the fragile ecosystem you are using as a backdrop”

[From The Blast and Buzzfeed]

The Joshua tree has long been used in art. And you can stand next to one, but you shouldn’t touch it. As a Californian, I will say that I did not know climbing them would be so damaging. Having said that, I also would never climb anything in a National Park unless a sign specifically told me I could. On a scale of one to Vanessa Hudgens carving her name on protected rock, I would have rated this about a That’s Miley for Ya. I didn’t really fault Miley for not knowing this and simply following her photographer’s instructions. I see this more on the photographer and Miley’s people for not doing a little investigating. Some commenters tried to defend her ignorance by reminding people that she’s a vegan and has been a strong advocate for environmental causes in the past. But as of this writing, Miley has neither responded nor taken the shots down. Several outlets are carrying this story, someone must have mentioned it to her. That’s not a good look for her. I’m all for using the beauty of the natural world as a backdrop in art. But I agree that the subject has a responsibility to promote the landscape in a way that is beneficial to it.


Photo credit: Instagram and WENN Photos

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59 Responses to “Miley Cyrus criticized for posing in an endangered Joshua tree”

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  1. Erinn says:

    A lot of people failed here. But if I was the face in the photo, I think I’d take it down.

    At the same time – at least this has been education. I’m going to bet a lot of people didn’t know why you shouldn’t climb them. I personally knew they were endangered (and would never attempt to touch them) but I didn’t really think about the root system. But I know recently people had destroyed or damaged some during the parks shut down.

    • otaku fairy... says:

      I didn’t know anything about Joshua trees before this. If it’s in a national park though, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not climb on special trees, pick the plants, etc, She at least should have apologized afterward and taken down the picture.

      • Lilly (with the double-L) says:

        That was my wish too when I heard about this. I honestly try and like Miley at different moments and attribute cultural appropriation, contrived rebellion, etc. to youth and come from a place of forgiveness, but… Even the outfit Miley is wearing makes me punchy. It’s a family trait to have long memories, well a cultural one too, and I really did not like her (now) sister-in-law’s fancy dress party. She also participated in the dressing like Natives or cowboys. I was glad when Chris Hemsworth finally apologized and advocated for Standing Rock, but I don’t think his wife did, or Miley. So I’ll keep trying to optimistically wait for growth, but it’s not a good look on her.

      • BeanieBean says:

        My goodness, yes, particularly since she’s in a National Park named for the tree! Neither she nor her people learned a doggone thing in that Park.

    • CA Family Code says:

      Growing up in the sixties and seventies when the twisty, furry Joshua’s were always green, we loved seeing them on our way out to my grandmother’s house in Apple Valley. My grandmother had a giant granddaddy Joshua in her front yard. This tree in Miley’s picture looks dead–I’m no expert. But, it shouldn’t make a difference, dead or not. Good grief you need only touch it to know it’s not meant to be climbed. She needs to update her tweet educating folks about the fragility of these trees. It’s against the law (in Apple Valley any way) to endanger or remove Joshua trees and other native plants unless there is ” an immediate
      threat to public health, safety or welfare. Removal is required to prevent probable
      damage to a structure, property, injury to people, or fenced animals.”

  2. MeghanNotMarkle says:

    Not climbing on national park trees kind of strikes me as a common sense thing but maybe I just have more of it than the average Miley. No pass on this one. For Pete’s sake.

    • Mel M says:

      MTE. As an adult I would never think to climb all over stuff in a national park unless it was meant to be climbed, like a mountain lol.

    • AnnaKist says:

      Anything for a “unique” photo for your instagram, though, hey? 🙄 She can be such a twit, this girl.

    • CA Family Code says:

      Joshua’s are not confined to the preserve. They are in other areas of the desert as well

  3. Lory says:

    “Please stop posting these, all you are communicating is that your vanity is more important than the fragile ecosystem you are using as a backdrop”

    This comment is worded exactly right.

    • Lizzie says:

      that response is so over the top it negates its purpose. no one can take a picture at a coral reef or a rain forest or in front of a tree that is endangered? give me a break. climbing that tree was stupid but that comment is pretty self righteous.

      • grabbyhands says:

        There is a world of difference between climbing a Joshua tree and getting a picture of a coral reef or a rain forest.

        This comment was spot on and there is nothing self righteous about calling out an empty head like Miley Cyrus for pulling a stunt like this and then doubling down on it by not only not taking the picture down but also making it impossible to anybody to comment on it because she can’t handle well deserved criticism.

        This could have been a teachable moment for her, but god forbid she let anything get in the way of her being an edgelord.

      • Arpeggi says:

        You can take a picture of a coral reef, but you shouldn’t take a piece of the reef to bring home… Same here: take a pic next to the tree, but not on it. Not endangering the wildlife isn’t hard to do and is more important than followers and likes.

  4. mycomment says:

    sooo.. she didn’t even have enough curiosity to tap into the internet to check out where in the desert she was being transported. I guess she was probably getting her nails done.
    nope. i’m sick of these self-absorbed brats; and glad to see the criticism she’s getting.

    notice how all that undergrowth from the branch she’s sitting on is missing.

  5. Clare says:

    The fact that she turned off comments but left her pictures up is what is so galling. I can accept she didn’t know it was harmful, but she knows now, and is actively choosing to continue spreading a dangerous message.

    I try to like Miley – there are things about her I admire (like her love for animals), but she just seems to be so very entitled and obnoxious…ugh

    • otaku fairy... says:

      Yeah. There’s a guy who runs an instagram account called ‘Public Lands Hate You’ (similar to ‘Joshua Tree Hates You’, but not owned by the same person) that draws attention to situations like this. He’s helping the environment and educating people, but I also really like the way he goes about it. It’s something that he sincerely cares about. This is a male not using his environmentalism to justify misogynistic hate speech or any other type of hate speech, and he has even called out members of his own team for doing things like that. It’s a breath of fresh air, since it’s more popular for people to exploit examples of wrongdoing so they can let out all the slurs and bigotry they’ve been taught and be cheered on/enabled by likeminded misogynists. The fact that he chooses to criticize without punching down or participating in dehumanization that’s already out there is refreshing. I respect that. #AllyMaterial

      Not everything has to be about the gram. If people are going to take pictures though, there are ways to do it without harming the environment. It’s really not hard to take a picture of something, photoshop yourself or someone else into it, and put in a disclaimer along with the photo to discourage others from actually climbing on, writing on, or crushing anything. Especially if the picture is going to be in a magazine or a part of a brand or advertisement, or you’re someone with her level of fame.

      • CheckThatPrivilege says:

        I feel naive for saying this, but I’m frankly surprised she hasn’t responded and taken responsibility for this. I guess I’ve been projecting unfounded good intentions onto her, but the way she’s handled it so far makes her seem like yet another arrogant and self-absorbed celeb

    • lucy2 says:

      Well that’s interesting. I saw this yesterday and expected she’d take down the photos and say “sorry, I didn’t know.” But she’s leaving them up and not letting people comment…hmm. What an absolute sh!thead.

  6. Scal says:

    You really shouldn’t walk off trail to stand next to them either as there are micro ecosystems in the desert crusts that you can destroy by walking on them. The root system for Joshua trees depend on those and are pretty thin and close to the surface. Even dead ones on the ground can provide shelter for loca fauna and shouldn’t get climbed on.

    It’s against NPS rules to climb these so there’s no reason her photographer should have let her up there. There’s signage everywhere at the park. Now if she’s on private landrhen it’s just being bad for the environment.

  7. Brunswickstoval says:

    Why is it on her people more than her? I find that excuse galling. Takes 60 seconds to google “should I climb a Joshua tree”

    • Tiffany :) says:

      My thoughts exactly. She’s not a child. If she’s damaging endangered plants, that’s her action, no one else’s.

    • Kitten says:

      Agreed. Didn’t she grow up in LA? This seems like it would be common knowledge out there…
      At the VERY least, she should know not to climb anything in a national park unless signs indicates you can. Yikes, Miley.

  8. Lizzie says:

    i think she is now educated, should take it down and know better in the future. i think respecting nature in a national park goes without saying but that’s me. i certainly didn’t know you shouldn’t even walk next to them and i certainly wouldn’t google “can i stand under this tree” before doing so – that is silly to suggest that we now have to google every thing on earth before we walk next to it.

    i went to joshua tree national park and were shocked by how people treated it. there are beautiful rock formations that people climb all over and repel from – i saw people off road though there are hundred’s of signs that way not to and saw people climbing the trees. there are signs everywhere and people ignore them and treat it like a toilet.

  9. grabbyhands says:

    At the end of the day, she’s as much of a shallow assh*le as she always has been and it is always about the attention. That’s why she disabled comments and left the picture up – it continues to get her attention.

    She’s just so edgy, don’t you know. Remember, this is the same person who decided to post selfies wearing a “I Was Touched By Terry shirt”.

    Just because she got married and isn’t sticking her tongue out in every picture lately doesn’t mean she isn’t still gross and stupid.

  10. TheHeat says:

    My career is in environmental science (although, nothing to do with trees); I had no idea that Joshua trees are endangered. So, this is certainly an educational post for me, and I appreciate the knowledge.
    I will be honest and say that, while I’m not a tree-climber, I have never given much thought to a tree’s root system or whether a large tree could sustain my weight without suffering damage. I do know that, now, and will consider it in the future.

    All that is to say, MOST people do not have this knowledge. And most people will not sit down and google whether a tree should be climbed or is endangered. So, in that respect, I give Miley a pass.
    HOWEVER…the fact that she turned off comments and didn’t say something along the lines of what I said, above, is quite childish, in my opinion. Own up to it, apologize for being ignorant of it, maybe make a donation to a group who is working to protect those trees, and move on.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      There are signs in the park warning visitors that it is illegal to do harm to the trees or go off-roading.

      Miley is from CA, and just recently during the gov’t shut down it was big news that people were going crazy in the Joshua Tree park, hurting the plants. It was a very big story, people being reminded not to go off roading in these parks, and not to disturb the trees.

  11. Taya says:

    Is she gonna go lie in a field of poppies next?

  12. tbh says:

    Not surprising at all. She’ll stay as entitled as ever.

  13. rose says:

    lol at the comments here being harsher than the ones on the Cardi B post about her drugging people . It’s obvious which celebrities are liked here and which aren’t.

    • ZGB says:


    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      Well Rose, that’s probably because Cardi actually acknowledged and apologized for what she did. Makes a huge difference in how people view a situation when people take responsibility for their own actions. Miley should try it sometime.

    • Wow says:

      I find it hard to believe everyone knew this tree was endangered. Until this post I couldn’t have picked a Joshua tree out of a line up. She didn’t know, she might be kind of a jerk.

      Its not like she drugged and robbed someone.

    • otaku fairy... says:

      Disagree. Cardi B was called trash, a misogynistic slur, and compared to R. Kelly. There were also a lot more harsh comments, and a bullshit argument about men being treated more harshly with Cancel Culture. They’re definitely not. Anyone making any critical argument about the false equivalencies being thrown around was accused of arguing that her behavior was fine.
      Speaking of Cardi B, did you know that the guy who came out with that story about being drugged and date-raped by her admits that he made it up as a joke?

      Imagine the backlash if a woman made up a false allegation like this as a joke. The consequences would not just be for her. Imagine if it were someone like Cardi B herself making this up. But men have it so hard!

      • Kitten says:

        LOL @ the revisionist history of OP. 80% of the comments on that thread were SLAMMING Cardi and those of us who refused to defend her actions but saw fit to discuss the larger implication of the cycle of poverty and/or abuse were shamed by other posters and accused of being a Cardi apologist.

        But whatever.

      • LoonyTunes says:

        Cardi B herself said she drugged and robbed men. It was in a video.

  14. Valiantly Varnished says:

    This is one of my major issues with Miley. When she is criticized or rightfully called out for something she just pretends it didn’t happen. No accountability or acceptance of responsibility. The same thing happened when she threw a “ghetto” brithday party for her sister. And had everyone dress like “gangsters” complete with grills, gold chains, baggy pants. It was essentially a blackface party without the blackface. And when this was pointed out to her? Crickets.

  15. Kate says:

    I’m angry that she looks so cute in a damn footed bodysuit. That’s not right

  16. Miss M says:

    Miley, please no climbing Joshua trees!
    On a vapid note: she looks great with dark hair. She reminded me of Emilia Clarke.

  17. Katie says:

    (re-typed without .gov or .org links from 10:08am Celebitchy time – don’t know where my original comment went?)

    Hecate, please don’t spread misinformation. The Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) is NOT endangered or threatened by the international IUCN, the US FWS (ESA’s acting body for land), the CA DFW, nor the CA NPS. Federal status states “Under Review” from almost 3 years ago and CA status states “Considered But Rejected”.

    I just came back from a road trip south to Death Valley, Red Rocks Canyon, and Mohave. We saw plenty of Joshua tress blooming on private lands along the roads to and from. Miley could have easily done her photo shoots in a friend’s backyard. How many of us in our youth climbed trees in our own backyards or had tree swings?

    I applaud people for respecting National Park rules. And I completely understand why Joshua Tree National Park released statements of damage after the recent Federal shutdown.

    With that being said… granted, most people won’t know where Miley was climbing and many assume things. She’s a role model whether she wants it for certain causes or not. Given the popularity of selfies and the “monkey see monkey do” response, her actions may spur people to do things they shouldn’t.

    Where I live, we have a huge problem of visitors down in Big Sur simply taking selfies with many of them blocking traffic by stopping their cars in the middle of Hwy 1, failing to apply their brakes and getting run over by their own cars, or falling over the cliffsides which necessitates the full force of volunteer firefighters, EMTs, and expensive air medivacs. I agree with the commenters that her actions were short-sighted.

    • choupette says:

      I don’t know, though, because living with the Joshua Trees I do know that they have a special protected status. For instance, if you clear land to build a home you must relocate all the Joshua Trees in your path, not just plow them down, by law.

      What was more irritating to me was that she couldn’t take the criticism, which I think is valid especially as she is a self-proclaimed hippy, and she disable her comments while leaving the photos up. She could have taken it all in, researched it, and posted a PSA. After the vandalism at Joshua Tree NP, it would’ve been nice to see.

    • Miss M says:

      Thank you for your information.
      I checked the National wildlife association website and this is what they stated:
      “Because they require a cold period to flower, Joshua trees are vulnerable to climate change. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the Joshua tree for listing under the Endangered Species Act.”
      This is why I thought it was an endangered species. Is it possible their website is outdated?

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Joshua Trees are a protect species under state law. Additionally, if these specific trees are in a National Park, and there are federal laws that prohibit harm to plants in National Parks.

  18. Paula says:

    FYI – Joshua trees grow in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah as well. We have a national park in Arizona filled with them!

  19. Harryg says:

    It’s not like she tore down that tree. And I like that outfit!

  20. rose says:

    Y’all acting like he’d climbing a tree is some evil terrible thing , it’s a just a tree I kinda doubt her tiny self hurt it .

    • choupette says:

      I get what you’re saying, but these trees are a) special, b) actually a Yucca. I’ve seen them fall over under their own weight when they get large, branchy, and old… or even due to a strong wind. When they do fall over, you can see that their roots are very shallow and their habitat is often arid land or even sand. They aren’t made to support anything more than a bird. They aren’t oak trees. I get that not everyone knows that, but people told her and her reaction was to leave up the photos and turn off comments. Kinda disappointing.

  21. Latoya says:

    When did Miley have rhinoplasty?

  22. Joh says:

    During the recent federal shutdown the damage done to the trees in Joshua Park was ALL over social media and the news

    How could all her people be so oblivious?

  23. Jag says:

    She did know because there are signs everywhere saying not to mess with the trees, from what I’ve read.

    And there was a lot of media coverage about the destruction of the endangered trees by jerk humans during the recent government shutdown, so she should have known from that as well.

    She’s just a selfish, attention-seeking person who doesn’t care about whether she destroys endangered trees as long as she gets likes and media coverage for it.