Mormon-tea is a 3 ft. spiky shrub native throughout the West. The leafless, bright green jointed stems provide a strong vertical form. Paired, bristle-tipped leaves split and fall off early leaving a leafless, broom-like shrub. Photosynthesis takes places on the stems instead of the leaves. Pollen cones and seed cones occur on separate plants. Instead of flowers, male plants produce yellow, oval-shaped pollen cones, in pairs (6 to 10) from the leaf nodes, and these have protruding appendages, topped by yellow-brown enclosures from where spores are emitted. Female plants produce greenish seed codes;these are similar in size to the pollen codes, are enclosed by several pairs of green bracts, and contain two seeds. Plant in full sun and provide excellent drainage.
Mormon Tea (Ephedra viridis)