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Ephedra trifurca

Ephedra trifurca Torr. ex S. Watson

 

Longleaf Jointfir, Mexican Tea

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionGnetophytaGymnospermous flowering plants; supposed link between conifers and flowering plants
ClassGnetopsidaWoody plants, most closely related to conifers
OrderEphedralesA monogeneric order of gymnosperms in the subdivision Gneticae
FamilyEphedraceaeMormon-tea or joint-fir Family
GenusEphedraFrom Greek name ephedra used by Pliny for the common mare’s tail (Hipparus) which it somewhat resembles
SpeciestrifurcaThrice forked

About plant names...

Mexican tea is native to Baja Califormia, Chihuahua and Sonora in northwestern Mexico, as well as to much of the American southwest. It is fairly common in desert scrub habitats.

Plants: Shrubs are up to 6½' (2 m) high, made of erect, round, jointed branches that look like someone plunged a clump of slightly crooked straws into the ground together. The branches are pointed, and have fine grooves along their length, and are light green at first, aging to yellowish, then greenish gray.

Leaves: Small scaly leaves poke out of stem nodes.

Flowers: This species does not produce flowers.

Fruits: Male plants produce pollen cones up to ⅜" (1 cm) long, while female plants produce slightly larger cones containing a seed in a papery envelope. Cones appear at stem nodes, in late winter or early spring.

Medical: Plants contain a small amount of ephedrine, a drug that is used medically for relief of shortness of breath due to bronchial asthma. It reduces swelling and constricts blood vessels. Ephedrine is dangerous for people with some health conditions. The PDR for Herbal Medicines does not list this species at all. Tea made from this plant is so low in ephedrine that it is probably neither harmful nor effi­cacious. This doesn’t deter the snake oil sellers, though.

Online References:

Ephedra trifurca at Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert

Ephedra trifurca on The Gymnosperm Database

Ephedra trifurca on Wikipedia

Ephedra trifurca on SEINet—the Southwest Environmental Information Network

Ephedra trifurca from the Jepson Manual

Ephedra trifurca on Calflora

Ephedra trifurca (Longleaf Jointfir, Mexican Tea)

5/3/2018 · Joshua Tree National Park, CA
≈ 4½ × 7" (12 × 18 cm)

Ephedra trifurca (Longleaf Jointfir, Mexican Tea)

5/3/2018 · Joshua Tree National Park, CA
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm)

Ephedra trifurca (Longleaf Jointfir, Mexican Tea)

5/3/2018 · Joshua Tree National Park, CA
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm)

Ephedra trifurca (Longleaf Jointfir, Mexican Tea)

5/3/2018 · Joshua Tree National Park, CA
≈ 15 × 10" (39 × 26 cm)

Ephedra trifurca description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 30 Jun 2019.

© FloraFinder.org. All rights reserved.


 

Ephedra trifurca (Longleaf Jointfir, Mexican Tea)

4/28/2018 · High Point Overlook, Scenic Drive, Red Rock Canyon, NV
≈ 15 × 10" (39 × 26 cm)

Ephedra trifurca (Longleaf Jointfir, Mexican Tea)

4/28/2018 · High Point Overlook, Scenic Drive, Red Rock Canyon, NV
≈ 6 × 10" (16 × 24 cm)

Ephedra trifurca (Longleaf Jointfir, Mexican Tea)

4/30/2018 · Kelbaker Road, Mojave National Preserve, CA
≈ 12 × 8" (31 × 20 cm)

Ephedra trifurca (Longleaf Jointfir, Mexican Tea)

4/28/2018 · Scenic Drive, Red Rock Canyon, NV
≈ 12 × 8" (31 × 20 cm)

Ephedra trifurca (Longleaf Jointfir, Mexican Tea)

4/30/2018 · Kelbaker Road, Mojave National Preserve, CA
≈ 6 × 4" (16 × 11 cm)

Ephedra trifurca (Longleaf Jointfir, Mexican Tea)

4/28/2018 · Scenic Drive, Red Rock Canyon, NV
≈ 8 × 5" (20 × 13 cm)

Ephedra trifurca (Longleaf Jointfir, Mexican Tea)

4/28/2018 · High Point Overlook, Scenic Drive, Red Rock Canyon, NV
≈ 7 × 4½" (18 × 12 cm)

Range:

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