Ephedra cutleri

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Ephedra cutleri

Secure (NatureServe)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Gnetophyta
Class: Gnetopsida
Order: Ephedrales
Family: Ephedraceae
Genus: Ephedra
E. cutleri
Binomial name
Ephedra cutleri

Ephedra cutleri, the Navajo ephedra or Cutler's jointfir, is a species of Ephedra that is native to the Southwestern United States (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming).[1][2]


The rhizomatous shrubs form erect clumps, .25–1.5 metres (0.82–4.92 ft) tall and 3–5 metres (9.8–16.4 ft) wide. It grows on flat and dry sandy areas, and occasionally on rocky slopes.[3] Anchored by the rhizomes and an advantageous root system, Ephedra cutleri leaves grow in an opposite orientation but can not sustain all growth. Because the leaves are too small to perform photosynthesis, it is conducted in the sticky stems of the plant.[4]


In one study, E. cutleri was the major plant found in Northeastern Arizona where dry, loamy, fine sand surfaced layers of Sheppard series soils[5] dominate and form coppice dunes due their strong rhizomes.[6]

Stabilized dunes are preferred at higher elevations.[7]

Evapotranspiration of waste water studies have been performed where E. cutleri is the predominant established plant species. Their adaptaion to the arid conditions of the desert landscape provide ideal functionality of evaporating the deposited water.[8]


A food source for animals, there are differing views as to whether the plant has any medicinal properties for humans with the exception of brewing Mormon tea.[4] Another source indicated the stems contain ephedrine which can be used to treat respiratory symptoms.[9]


The plant was originally described by Robert Hibbs Peebles in 1940. It was placed in section Ephedra sect. Asarca.[10]

The formation of the mountains and arid climatic variation conditions of the Southwestern United States and provides and ideal environment for the Ephedra species to develop. E. cutleri has diverged along with other variants such as E. californica and E. viridis during the Late Miocene and Pliocene epochs from one of the original Ephedra species E. distachya.[7]


USA (AZ, CO, NM, UT, WY)[11][12]

Dispersal method is normally small mammals.[7]

Wetland Indicator[edit]

Not determined[13]


  1. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ Biota of North America Program, 2013 county distribution maps
  3. ^ Ephedra cutleri in Flora of North America @ efloras.org
  4. ^ a b "Southwest Colorado Wildflowers, Ephedra". www.swcoloradowildflowers.com. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  5. ^ "Official Series Description - SHEPPARD Series". soilseries.sc.egov.usda.gov. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  6. ^ Harmon S. Hodgkinson. “Relationship between Cutler Mormon-Tea [Ephedra Cutleri] and Coppice Dunes in Determining Range Trend in Northeastern Arizona.” Journal of Range Management, no. 3, 1983, p. 375. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2307/3898491.
  7. ^ a b c Loera, Israel; Sosa, Victoria; Ickert-Bond, Stefanie M. (2012-11-01). "Diversification in North American arid lands: Niche conservatism, divergence and expansion of habitat explain speciation in the genus Ephedra". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 65 (2): 437–450. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2012.06.025. ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 22776548.
  8. ^ Glenn, Edward P.; Jarchow, Christopher J.; Waugh, W. Joseph (2016-10-01). "Evapotranspiration dynamics and effects on groundwater recharge and discharge at an arid waste disposal site". Journal of Arid Environments. 133: 1–9. doi:10.1016/j.jaridenv.2016.05.003. ISSN 0140-1963.
  9. ^ "Ephedra cutleri (Cutler Morning-tea, Navajo Ephedra, Three-forked Ephedra)". www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved 2018-10-07.
  10. ^ Price, R. A. (1996). Systematics of the Gnetales: A review of morphological and molecular evidence. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 157(6): S40-S49.
  11. ^ "Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin". www.wildflower.org. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
  12. ^ Biota of North America Program, 2013 county distribution maps
  13. ^ "More Information and Sources | USDA PLANTS". plants.usda.gov. Retrieved 2018-10-07.

External links[edit]

Al Schneider - http://www.swcoloradowildflowers.com .

NatureServe Explorer - http://explorer.natureserve.org/index.htm

Integrated Taxonomic Information System - https://www.itis.gov/

USDA Natural resources Conservation Service - https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=EPCU