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Mormon Tea

Ephedra aspera

Details & Attributes

Plant Type(s) Shrub
Native to Arizona Yes!
Water Needs Low
Sun Full sun, partial shade
Pollinators Wind
Has Spines No
In relative feet, width by height
4-5' × 4-5'
Flowering Season January-April
Flower Color Greenish/yellow
Minimum Temperature Range 0 °F
Leaf Description Scaly needles
Fruit Single seeded "cones"
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Range Map View SEINet Range Map
Elevation Range 1000-4000 ft.
Description Ephedra is a particularly fascinating genus of plants in that its evolutionary history stretches back millions of years. In fact, as a gymnosperm, Ephedra is more closely related to pines and junipers than flowering shrubs. These unusual plants produce scaly, needle like leaves, but photosynthesize primarily through their green to greyish stems. They produce pollen and seed bearing cones which occur on seperate individuals. The range of this species covers much of southern, western, and northwestern Arizona, but it is not ideal for high elevation gardens. In a landscape Ephedras could be planted on a well draining mound with cacti and xeric shrubs such as foothills palo verde (Parkinsonia microphylla), greythorn (Zizyphus obtusifolia), and Engelmann's prickly pear (Opuntia engelmanii).