Ephedra in Winter

Landscapes can look pretty dreary in winter, so it is great when we find native and xeric plants that are evergreen. Mormon Tea, that big ball of twiggy green stems, is a fabulous year-round foundation shrub. Its little buddy on the left is one of the many western US yuccas that also look good in winter.
Mormon Tea has a rich history of use as a medicinal and a strong stimulant by native peoples of the Mountain West as well as Mormon settlers. You could brew yourself a cup of Mormon Tea, but I’ve heard that it will probably keep you awake–even more than caffeine.
Like pines and spruces, Mormon Tea is a conifer because it produces cones along those green stems, not flowers. Mormon Tea and its relatives are sometimes call “Joint Firs” because the green stems are punctuated with small nodes, which is where the little cones poke out. The appearance is similar to another ancient plant, water-loving Horsetail.

February 1, 2024