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Mormon Tea

Ephedra genus

 


This medium-sized shrub grows up to 4 feet high and appears to have no leaves. It looks like a thicket of numerous green, jointed, leafless branches with conspicuous nodes.

It actually does have small, scale-like leaves and tiny flowers of male and female cones which bloom February through April. The fruit is a seed surrounded by 2 or 3 large scales.

There are a number of species of Mormon Tea (Ephedra genus) growing in the southwestern deserts of the U.S., including E. trifurca, E. viridis, E. torreyana, E. nevadensis and E. californica. All have been used for a variety of medicinal purposes by various peoples over the centuries.

Range

All four of the southwestern deserts of the U.S.

Habitat

Mesas, plains, sandy soil including dunes below 5,000 feet.

-- A.R Royo

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Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

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