Ephedra nevadensis

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Ephedra nevadensis
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Gnetophyta
Class: Gnetopsida
Order: Ephedrales
Family: Ephedraceae
Genus: Ephedra
E. nevadensis
Binomial name
Ephedra nevadensis

Ephedra antisyphilitica S.Wats. 1871, illegitimate homonym, not Berland. ex C.A. Mey. 1846

Ephedra nevadensis (Nevada ephedra) is a species of Ephedra native to dry areas of western North America.

Its range extends west to California and Oregon, east to Texas, and south to Baja California, including areas of the Great Basin, Colorado plateau and desert Southwest. It is found in rocky and sandy soils, generally in areas without trees.[3][4][5]

More than other North American Ephedra species, it is a significant forage plant. It is grazed upon by mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), and desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) as well as domestic sheep.[6]


Nevada ephedra was used for food and medicine by indigenous people and for tea by Mormons. Currently, its biggest use is as forage for sheep and cattle (it is not as good for horses), and for habitat restoration. It is sometimes grown for ornamental purposes.[6] Among the Zuni people an infusion of the whole plant, except for the root, taken for syphilis.[7] They also use it to make a tea-like beverage.[8]


Nevada ephedra is wind-pollinated, with male plants growing in dryer areas and female plants growing in wetter ones, an arrangement which is believed to increase the production of seed. Cones mature and pollination occurs in March to June, with seeds ripening in May to August, although seeds are not produced every year. In the wild, seeds are often spread by rodents, and for cultivation, seeds can readily be collected and sown. The plant can also be propagated via transplants and cuttings.[6]


  1. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Ephedra antisiphylitica S.Watson
  2. ^ Tropicos, search for Ephedra antisyphilitica
  3. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Ephedra nevadensis S. Watson
  4. ^ Biota of North America Program, 2013 county distribution map
  5. ^ Flora of North America, Ephedra nevadensis S. Watson, Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts. 14: 298. 1879.
  6. ^ a b c Stanley G. Kitchen. "Ephedra nevadensis S. Wats." (PDF). In John K. Francis (ed.). Wildland Shrubs of the United States and its Territories: Thamnic Descriptions (General Technical Report IITF-WB-1). International Institute of Tropical Forestry. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
  7. ^ Stevenson, Matilda Coxe 1915 Ethnobotany of the Zuni Indians. SI-BAE Annual Report #30 (p. 49)
  8. ^ Stevenson, p.67

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