Virginia Tech Dendrology

Mormon-tea Ephedraceae Ephedra spp. L. Listen to the Latin symbol: EPHED
Leaf: Opposite, but very few and scattered, very small (1/3 inch), scale-like, appressed against green stem and very inconspicuous.
Flower: Species is dioecious; yellow-brown, cone-like, 1/4 to 1/2 inch, occurring in small clusters at nodes, appearing in early spring.
Fruit: A small, 1/3 to 1/2 inch cone.
Twig: Most conspicuous part of the plant. It is almost entirely composed of yellow-green to blue-green twigs, branch repeatedly at nodes forming an upside down broom-like cluster.
Bark: Gray to reddish brown becoming finely fissured.
Form: Very unique dense cluster of green twigs (broom-like) apparently lacking foliage, reaching up to 3 feet in height.
leaf flower twig bark form1 map
Additional Range Information: Ephedra spp. is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting Mormon-tea.
External Links: USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database
All material © 2018 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson; Silvics reprinted from Ag Handbook 654