Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
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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
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botanical illustration including Ephedra trifurca


Citation for this treatment: Stefanie M. Ickert-Bond 2016. Ephedra trifurca, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 05, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 05, 2016.

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

More photos of Ephedra trifurca in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Ephedra trifurca:
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.