The Living Desert
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Mormon Tea

Ephedra nevadensis

Family:

Ephedraceae

Form:

Upright shrub up to 3 feet tall and wide

Range:

California in the eastern Mojave and Colorado deserts, southern Utah, Nevada, Arizona in Grand Canyon area and in the Mojave.  Also in Arizona and Colorado deserts and in to Baja California and Sonora, Mexico

Habitat:

Dry plains and slopes from 1000-4000’ elevation.

Living Desert Location:

Ethnobotanical Garden and Mojave Garden

Factoid:

Provides winter browse for large mammals, like Bighorn, and much-loved seed for small mammals!

This much-branched, native perennial offers attractive and unique evergreen or gray, jointed stems that are about 1/8 inch thick and photosynthetic. Nearly leafless, it has scale leaves that are minute and have no function in photosynthesis. The flowers are tiny and occur as 1/4-inch cones from March through April.

In a landscape, this would make an interesting accent plant with its coloration, form and texture. So different from and would be quite complementary to, leafy green shrubs. This plant requires soil with very good drainage and does not like to be overwatered.

Native Americans used fresh or dried twigs boiled, as tea for stomach and kidney ailments. The seeds were dried, ground into meal, cooked and served as mush.

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