Life Span: Perennial
erect shrub, growing anywhere from 8 inches to 5 feet tall. It reproduces
by seed and by sprouting from the roots and woody crown.
ephedra is dioecious. The cones are in pairs at the stem joints.
Produces nut-like seeds partly or entirely enclosed in large bracts
that form a cone structure.
on the stem joints and consist of small, papery scales.
ephedra has numerous parallel stems that point upward resembling
a broom, with branchlets clustered around nodes. Stems are generally
less than 0.12 inch in diameter and are bright green, with thicker
growth developing gray, shreddy bark. The jointed branches have
small, scale-like, inconspicuous leaves growing opposite on the
ephedra is found on dry, rocky, open sites in valleys and washes,
and on slopes, alluvial fans, mesas, and foothills. It is typically
found at elevations ranging from 3,000 to 7,500 feet, though it
has been reported at elevations up to 10,000 feet. Average precipitation
on sites supporting green ephedra ranges from 6 to 15 inches. It
is drought resistant and winter hardy.
primarily on sandy, gravelly or rocky, well-drained, undeveloped
soils. Green ephedra grows well on shallow, medium or deep soils
and is tolerant of calcareous, weakly saline, moderately alkaline,
and slightly sodic soils. It is intolerant of wet, poorly drained
sagebrush, Nevada jointfir, galleta
grass, sand dropseed,
and Utah juniper.
ephedra is an important browse species for big game. It is not utilized
by domestic livestock. It is heavily browsed by big game on winter
range but only moderately or lightly browsed during other seasons.
Green ephedra stems and twigs are nearly all within reach of grazing
animals, and can serve as winter forage because they extend above
Green ephedra is highly toxic to both domestic sheep and cows during
gestation, even at low doses. It causes ruminal impaction, diarrhea,
vomiting, fecal mucus, anorexia, and in some cases death.
The stems of green ephedra were traditionally brewed by Native Americans
to make a nonmedicinal beverage as well as a medicinal tea considered
to be a remedy for a backache. Native Americans also made flour
and a coffeelike beverage from the seeds. Ephedra species provided
Native Americans with good charcoal for tatooing. Green ephedra
can be used for xeriscaping projects, and has been widely used as
a landscape species for roadsides, recreational sites and mine dumps.
It is valuable for its vivid green color in an often dull gray sagebrush