This is a very common shrub in Nevada. The only foliage on this plant are the
green, tube-like, segmented branches. It is non-flowering (gymnosperm) and
pollinates without the use of insects or birds. Gymnosperms are considered more
primitive than flowering plants (angiosperms) and take the form of mostly
conifers (pines, firs, cedars, to name a few).
||Hence, Mormon Tea is more closely related to the Pinyon Pine than to the
Big Sagebrush or Soap Weed. The settlers used this plant as a tea
replacement. Whether they knew it or not, this shrub is a decongestant and
contains ephedrine, a chemical found on cough syrups and decongestants. This
plant is also a bronchial dilator useful in the treatment of
Wilbur D. May Center at
Rancho San Rafael Regional Park
1595 N. Sierra,
Reno, Nevada U.S.A.
(775) 785-5961 Fax (775) 785-4707