Ephedra californica

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Ephedra californica
Ephedra californica 1.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Gnetophyta
Class: Gnetopsida
Order: Ephedrales
Family: Ephedraceae
Genus: Ephedra
Species: E. californica
Binomial name
Ephedra californica
An Ephedra californica cone.

Ephedra californica is a species of Ephedra, known by the common names California jointfir, California ephedra, desert tea, and cañatillo.


The plant is native to many diverse areas of central and southern California, Baja California, and west Arizona. It grows in varied scrub and open habitats, including chaparral, arid grassland, and Creosote scrub. [1] It is found at elevations from 150–3,400 feet (46–1,036 m). [2]

Regions and landforms of distribution include: [1]

Habitats include:


Ephedra californica is a spindly shrub made up of twigs which are greenish when new and age to a yellowish-gray color and have fine longitudinal grooves on their surfaces. The bark becomes gray-brown, and irregularly fissured and cracked. It grows .25–1 metre (0.82–3.28 ft) in height, with similar spread. [2]

The tiny leaves grow at nodes on the twigs and dry in drought, to crumble away to leave brownish ridges there. Male plants produce clumps of pollen cones at the nodes and female plants produce egg-shaped seed cones each about 1 centimetre (0.39 in) long, May to June. [2]

Native American uses[edit]

Ephedra californica was used by the indigenous peoples of California as a medicinal plant, culinary ingredient, and for making tools. Tribal people using it included the Kumeyaay—Diegueño and Kawaiisu of present-day Southern California. [3]


External links[edit]