Poppies spring up around the Truckee Meadows
Poppies spring up around the Truckee Meadows

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Mormon Tea

Ephedra viridias
Ephederaceae family

      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 asthma.




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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