Ephedra antisyphilitica Berl. ex C. A. Mey.

  • Family: Ephedraceae
  • Common names: Mormon tea, clapweed, whorehouse tea

    Small shrub to 1 m (3 ft) tall with deep taproot. Bark grayish, irregularly fissured or shreddy. Twigs gray-green to yellowish-green, stiff, hard. Leaves opposite, connate about half their length, 1-4 mm (0.05-0.15 in) long, entire, sharp-pointed, often early-deciduous. Pollen cones 1-2 per node, ovoid, 4-8 mm (0.15-0.3 in) long, scales usually greenish and in 5-8 opposite pairs. Ovulate cones 1-2 per node, ellipsoid, 6-11 mm (0.25-0.4 in) long, scales in 4-6 pairs, inner pairs of scales becoming red and thickened at maturity.

    Distribution: Native to the Southern Great Plains southward into Mexico.
    Habitat: Sandy flats, gravelly hills, canyons.
    NWI status: none
    Comment: The specific epithet and common names refer to the supposed capacity of the plant to prevent and cure sexually transmitted diseases. Ephedra is derived from a Greek word meaning horsetail; antisyphilitica refers to its use in medicine.

    Distribution in Oklahoma:

    Last update: 9/10/99
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