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Joint-fir, Mormon Tea, Popotillo, Popote, Clapweed, Canatilla, Erect Ephedra
Ephedra antisyphilitica


Interesting, peculiar shrubs, Ephedras have many jointed, slender green stems about half the size of a pencil and no discernable leaves; the stems carry on photosynthesis. They are gymnosperms, like pines and junipers, and the flowers are actually tiny cones, with male and female on separate plants. They are very drought tolerant and require full sun and well-drained soil. E. antisyphilitica grows on gravelly, rocky plains and hillsides and calcareous slopes in the Rio Grande Plains, Edwards Plateau, South Panhandle, Southwest Oklahoma, Mexico, and isolated pockets in the Trans-Pecos. It can grow to 4 feet high with a greater spread. The stems are easily distinguished by the narrow pale orange to tan band around each node, and by the red, fleshy female cones. Young stems are smooth and yellow-greenish and age to ashy-gray with cracks and fissures. The species name comes from the use of it and other Ephedra sp. in folk medicine as a treatment for syphilis.

Plant Habit or Use: small shrub

Exposure: sun

Flower Color: red (female), greenish yellow to red (male)

Blooming Period: spring

Fruit Characteristics: small cone with solitary seed

Height: 3 to 4 feet

Width: 3 to 6 feet

Plant Character: evergreen

Heat Tolerance: very high

Water Requirements:

Soil Requirements: neutral

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7

Additional Comments:

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