Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Key to families | Table of families and genera
Previous taxon Index to accepted names and synonyms:
| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |
Next taxon
Ephedra trifurca

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 trifurca S. Watson
Stem: 0.4--2(4.5) m; twig pale green, aging yellow to gray-green; uppermost bud thorn-like; pith dark brown. Leaf: generally 3 per node, (5)7--15 mm; tips +- spine-like; sheath fibrous, persistent, aging gray; base not swollen. Pollen Cone: 1--many per node, 6--10 mm; bracts 3 per node. Seed Cone: 1--several per node, 10--14 mm, obovoid, stalk 2--4 mm, straight, with reduced basal bracts; distal bracts 3 per node, 8--12 mm, papery, margins inrolled, +- entire, broad-scarious, translucent, center round, red-brown, stalk-like base present. Seed: 1(3), 9--15 mm, > 3 × as long as wide, beaked. Chromosomes: 2n=14.
Ecology: Creosote-bush scrub, sandy washes, flats, stabilized dunes; Elevation: -30--2100 m. Bioregional Distribution: D; Distribution Outside California: to Texas, Mexico. Note: Cones present Dec--Apr.
Unabridged Note: RSA383822 (SCo) belongs to Ephedra trifurca, but probably was from cultivation pl.
eFlora Treatment Author: Stefanie M. Ickert-Bond
Jepson Online Interchange

Previous taxon: Ephedra nevadensis
Next taxon: Ephedra viridis

Name Search
botanical illustration including Ephedra trifurca


Citation for this treatment: Stefanie M. Ickert-Bond 2012, Ephedra trifurca, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 24, 2018.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2018, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 24, 2018.

Ephedra trifurca
click for enlargement
© 2010 James M. Andre
Ephedra trifurca
click for enlargement
© 2010 Neal Kramer
Ephedra trifurca
click for enlargement
© 2010 Neal Kramer
Ephedra trifurca
click for enlargement
© 2010 Neal Kramer
Ephedra trifurca
click for enlargement
© 2010 Neal Kramer
Ephedra trifurca
click for enlargement
© 2005 James M. Andre

More photos of Ephedra trifurca in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Ephedra trifurca:
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
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).

View elevation by latitude chart
Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.