Ephedra trifurca – Longleaf Jointfir
Scientific Name: Ephedra trifurca
Common Names: Longleaf Jointfir, Longleaf Ephedra, Mexican-tea, Longleaf Mormon Tea
Growth Habit: Shrub
Arizona Native Status: Native
Habitat: Desert, Upland. This unusual plant grows on dry, sunny flats and slopes in the desert and grasslands.
Flower Color: Non-flowering
Height: To 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, but usually half that
Description: The plants are dioecious. At the stem nodes, the male plants produce 1 or more reddish brown, egg-shaped pollen cones, while the female plants produce 1 or more reddish brown, flower-like seed cones with 6 to 9 whorls of circular, papery, translucent bracts in groups of three. The scale-like leaves are in whorls of three at the stem nodes and will become dry, gray, and shredded with age and can fall off. The stems are slender, rigid, jointed, initially glaucous yellow-green in color, and then aging to yellow and then gray. The base of the plant is woody.
The similar Mormon Tea (Ephedra viridis) has yellowish seed cones and bright green stems.
Edible – The stems can be used to make tea and used for traditional medicinal purposes, but the plants do not contain as much ephedrine, a stimulant, appetite suppressant, and decongestant, as some other members of this genus.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Gnetophyta – Mormon tea and other gnetophytes
Family: Ephedraceae – Mormon-tea family
Genus: Ephedra L. – jointfir
Species: Ephedra trifurca Torr. ex S. Watson – longleaf jointfir
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