Gymnosperm Database
Link to jump to start of content Home Topics Bookstore Links Site Map Contact Us
search Google
the whole Web


A plant on the upper fan of Borrego Palm Canyon [C.J. Earle, 2004.04.08].


Foliage on the above plant [C.J. Earle, 2004.04.08].


Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

Conservation status

Ephedra californica

Watson 1879

Common names

California jointfir (Jaeger 1969), California ephedra, cañatillo (Stevenson 1993).

Taxonomic notes


"Shrubs erect, 0.25-1 m. Bark gray-brown, cracked and irregularly fissured. Branches alternate or whorled, semiflexible to rigid, angle of divergence about 45°. Twigs yellow-green, becoming yellow, then yellow-brown with age, glaucous, with numerous very fine longitudinal grooves; internodes 3-10 cm. Terminal buds conic, 2-3 mm, apex acute. Leaves in whorls of 3, 2-6 mm, connate to 1/2-3/4 their length; bases at first membranous, then becoming thickened, completely deciduous; apex acute. Pollen cones 1-several at node, ovoid, 6-8 mm, on short, scaly peduncles; bracts in 8-12 whorls of 3, light orange-yellow, ovate, 2-3 × 2-3 mm, membranous, slightly united at base; bracteoles equaling or slightly exceeding bracts; sporangiophores 3-5 mm, exserted to 1/3 their length, with 3-7 sessile to short-stalked microsporangia. Seed cones 1-several at node, ovoid, 8-10 mm, on very short, scaly peduncles; bracts in 4-6 whorls of 3, circular, 5-7 × 5-10 mm, papery, with orange- to green-yellow center and base, slightly clawed, margins entire. Seeds 1(-2), nearly globose, 7-10 mm diam., brown, smooth. ... Coning March-April" (Stevenson 1993).

Distribution and Ecology

US: California and Mexico: Baja California Norte, in the Mojave and Colorado deserts at 50-1000 m on valleys and bajadas (Jaeger 1969, Stevenson 1993).

Big tree





I sampled one and it has growth rings. Whether they are annual rings remains to be determined.


See also

Last Modified 2012-11-23