|Ephedra (Mormon Tea) (Ephedra spp)|
DESCRIPTION: Shrub to 4'. Stems green to yellowish-green, divided into different joint segments. Dioecious. Flowers small , brownish-yellow, in conelike clusters. Leaves, when present, are scalelike. Ephedraceae (Joint-Fir) Family.
NATURAL HISTORY: Flowers bloom in spring. There are about 8 species in Arizona. Dried stems may be steeped to make a bitter-tasting tea (thus the common name of Mormon Tea). The stems contain caffeine and ephedrine (stimulants). Pseudoephedrine is a similar compound to ephedrine that is produced synthetically and is used in commercial cold medicines.