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Ephedra trifurca (Ephedra)
Anderson, Wynn

Ephedra trifurca

Ephedra trifurca Torr. ex S. Watson

Ephedra, Mormon Tea, Longleaf Jointfir, Jointfir, Longleaf Teabush, Tea Weed, Canutillo

Ephedraceae (Mormon-Tea Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

This is a usually 1-6 ft. shrub with yellowish-gray, erect, forked branches. Spine-tipped leaves, in groups of three, split and fall off early leaving a leafless, broom-like shrub. Cones are red-brown.


From the Image Gallery

45 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Dioecious
Fruit Type: Cone
Size Notes: Up to about 15 feet tall, often much shorter.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Notes: Cones reddish-brown. Coning occurs late winter - early spring.


USA: AZ , CA , NM , TX
Native Distribution: S.w. TX to s. CA & n.w. Mex.
Native Habitat: Sandy or gravelly hill & plains; dry creek beds; scrubby areas

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Gravelly or sandy soils.


Use Wildlife: Provides cover for birds and small mammals. Nutlike seeds are taken by quail and other birds.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-PM-1 Collected 2006-05-25 in Presidio County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 36 - Jepson eFlora (2019) The Jepson Herbarium, University of California, Berkeley
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Ephedra trifurca in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Ephedra trifurca in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Ephedra trifurca


Record Modified: 2023-02-08
Research By: TWC Staff

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