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Sonoran Desert Ephedra

Also known as Joint-Fir because the green stems appear segmented and these plants are indeed conifers. Yet another name is Mormon Tea because fresh growth can be brewed to make a mildly stimulating tea. Leaves, when present, are scale like. Bears separate male and female cones. A common component of the Sonoran Desert with several species.

Long-leaf Joint-fir

Ephedra trifurca

Rough Joint-fir

Ephedra aspera

Pen & Ink Illustration by Michael Plagens

Woody shrub with green stems that are spiny-tipped. Shreds of three leaves usu. present at stem nodes. Distinct cones in spring time.    Detailed Description

Photo of Ephedra aspera © by Michael Plagens

Woody shrub with green twigs and gray-branched bark. Two, small nearly scale-like leaves per node. Seed, generally one per female cone. Twigs not spiny. Detailed Description

Green Ephedra

Ephedra viridis

Photo of Ephedra viridis © by Michael Plagens

Bright green leafless stems for much of year.. Detailed Description

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