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Ephedra californica

Higher Taxonomy
Family: EphedraceaeView Description 

Habit: Shrub; generally dioecious; taproot deep. Stem: erect, prostrate, occasionally climbing, jointed, much branched, green in youth; branchlets opposite or whorled, cylindric, longitudinally grooved; pith brown or white. Leaf: simple, 2 (each pair at right angles to adjacent pairs) or 3 per node, scale-like, +- fused at base into membranous sheath, generally ephemeral; resin canals 0. Cone: axillary (terminal), sessile or not, 1--many per node, ovoid or ellipsoid. Pollen Cone: bracts 2--3 per node, proximal sterile, distal subtending 2 basally fused bractlets subtending a stalk with 2--10(15) sessile to stalked, anther-like parts with 2 apical pores. Seed Cone: stalk 1--11(50) mm, generally straight, naked or with reduced basal bracts; distal bracts in (2)4--10 pairs or whorls, free or fused, brown or green, scarious or fleshy, subtending 2 fused leathery bractlets enclosing 1 ovule. Seed: 1--3(4) per cone (in ×-section, +- round if 1, +- semicircular if 2, +- triangular if 3, etc.), +- spheric to ellipsoid or lance-ovoid, beaked or not.
Genera In Family: 1 genus, +- 50 species: arid, semi-arid (to tropical) regions of northern Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America.
eFlora Treatment Author: Stefanie M. Ickert-Bond
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: EphedraView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Stem: spreading to generally erect, 0.3--2(4.5) m; uppermost bud generally conic, generally not thorn-like.
Etymology: (Greek: sitting upon, from jointed stems and/or ancient name for Equisetum, also with jointed stems)

Ephedra californica S. Watson
Stem: 0.3--1.5 m; twig yellow-green, aging gray-brown; uppermost bud narrowed but not thorn-like; pith dark brown. Leaf: 3 per node, 2--6 mm; +- white margins wearing off; base in age recurved, swollen. Pollen Cone: 1--many per node, 6--7.5 mm; bracts 3 per node. Seed Cone: 1--few per node, 4.5--8(10) mm, ovoid, stalk 1--2 mm, straight, basal bracts reduced; distal bracts 3 per node, ovate, free to base, scarious, center orange- or green-yellow, +- thickened, margins entire, translucent, stalk-like base short. Seed: generally 1, < 10 mm, generally > 2 × as long as wide, not beaked, smooth.
Ecology: Scattered in arid grassland, chaparral, creosote-bush scrub; Elevation: 70--1300 m. Bioregional Distribution: s SNF, Teh, w SnJV, SCoR, SW, D; Distribution Outside California: Baja California. Note: Plants of coast ranges, relative to plants of desert, taller, may have different ecological tolerances. Cones present Mar--Apr.
eFlora Treatment Author: Stefanie M. Ickert-Bond
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botanical illustration including Ephedra californica


Citation for this treatment: Stefanie M. Ickert-Bond 2016. Ephedra californica, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 09, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 09, 2016.

Ephedra californica
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© 2010 Neal Kramer
Ephedra californica
click for enlargement
© 2009 Neal Kramer
Ephedra californica
click for enlargement
© 2010 Neal Kramer
Ephedra californica
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© 2006 James M. Andre
Ephedra californica
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© 2004 James M. Andre
Ephedra californica
click for enlargement
© 2010 Neal Kramer

More photos of Ephedra californica in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Ephedra californica:
s SNF, Teh, w SnJV, SCoR, SW, D;
Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.