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A plant at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, CA [C.J. Earle, 2004.04.13].


Stem detail for a plant in Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, CA [C.J. Earle, 2004.04.13].


Male flowers in cone [Ken Gardiner] (The Blazing Star website).


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Conservation status

Ephedra viridis

Coville 1893

Common names

Green ephedra (Stevenson 1993), mountain joint fir (Jaeger 1969), Mormon tea, Brigham tea (Elmore and Janish 1976).

Taxonomic notes

Syn: Ephedra nevadensis Watson subvar. pluribracteata Palmer ex Stapf; E. nevadensis var. viridis (Coville) Jones (Stevenson 1993).


"Shrubs erect, 0.5-1 m. Bark gray, cracked and irregularly fissured. Branches alternate or whorled, rigid, angle of divergence about 30°. Twigs bright green to yellow-green, becoming yellow with age, not viscid, ridges between longitudinal grooves barely papillate, smooth; internodes 1-5 cm. Terminal buds conic, 1-2 mm, apex obtuse. Leaves opposite, 2-5 mm, connate to 1/2-3/4 their length, not photosynthetic; bases thickened, brown, persistent, becoming hard, enlarged, and black; apex setaceous. Pollen cones 2-several at node, obovoid, 5-7 mm, sessile; bracts opposite, 6-10 pairs, light yellow and slightly reddened, ovate, 2-4 × 2-3 mm, membranous, slightly connate at base; bracteoles slightly exceeding bracts; sporangiophores 2-4 mm, 1/4-1/2 exserted, with 5-8 sessile to nearly sessile microsporangia. Seed cones 2-several at node, obovoid, 6-10 mm, sessile or on short, scaly peduncles; bracts opposite, 4-8 pairs, ovate, 4-7 × 2-4 mm, membranous or papery, with yellow center and base, margins entire. Seeds 2, ellipsoid, 5-8 × 2-4 mm, light brown to brown, smooth. 2n = 28. ... Coning spring" (Stevenson 1993).

Distribution and Ecology

USA: Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado & New Mexico at 100-2500 m in piñon-juniper woodland and the Mojave desert, usually on dry rocky slopes and canyon walls (Jaeger 1969, Stevenson 1993).

Big tree



"The Navajo brewed the tops into a drink for use as a cough medicine. Other indians roasted the seeds, ate them whole or ground them into a meal for various uses" (Elmore and Janish 1976).




See also

Last Modified 2012-11-23