Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Ephedra antisyphilitica

Mormon tea, Joint-fir, Clapweed, Popote

Ephedraceae (Mormon-Tea Family)

Ephedra antisyphilitica (Mormon tea)
Nugent, Louis R
An upright or spreading shrub found on limestone hillsides, on bluffs, and in gravelly or stony upland soils. Jointed branches green to yellowish or grayish green, with a light orange to yellow or tan band encircling the stem below the leaves. Leaves minute, scalelike at the joints. Reproductive structures in small cones, 1/4 to l/2 inch long, emerging from the joints. Not to be confused with either Horsetail or Scouring-rush, genus Equisetum, which are herbaceous.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr
Bloom Notes: Reproductive structures in small cones.


Native Habitat: Prairie, Plains, Meadows, Pastures, Savannahs, Canyons, Ditches, Ravines, Depressions

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Rocky Gravelly, Caliche type, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam Clay
Conditions Comments: This plant is a gnetophyte and has neither flowers nor leaves, and is easily overcome by other, more hardy species. The green stem of the plant grows and branches from nodes. Instead of flowers the plant developes cones which produce spores. Do not overwater. Protect from rabbit and deer.

Last Update: 2015-05-05