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Common Name: Longleaf Jointfir
Ephedra trifurca is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 2.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine
South-western N. America - southern California to Texas and Mexico.
Dry sandy and rocky places below 600 metres in Creosote bush scrub, deserts etc[
]. Dry rocky slopes to flat sandy areas at elevations of 500 - 2000 metres[
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it could succeed outdoors at least in the milder parts of this country. It hybridises in the wild with other members of the genus. In particular, it hybridises with E. torreyana to form E . × intermixta. This hybrid occurs in a small area of southwestern New Mexico (near Engle, Sierra County) within the zone of sympatry of the two parental species; it may be fertile (mature seeds are formed). It is intermediate in most characters but can be identified by its combination of the spinelike terminal buds of E . trifurca and the scabrous, light yellow seeds of E . torreyana[
].The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus.
Requires a well-drained loamy soil and a sunny position[
]. Established plants are drought resistant and are also lime tolerant[
Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown in fruit and seed are required.
A tea is made from the branches[
Fruit - raw or cooked.
The dried and crushed stems are diuretic[
].An infusion has been used in the treatment of venereal disease, stomach complaints and kidney problems[
]. The pulverized or boiled stems were also applied externally as a poultice on syphilitic sores by some native North American Indians[
]. They can also be used as a poultice on other skin sores[
Unlike many members of the genus, this species is not very rich in the alkaloid ephedrine and so is not used in the treatment of asthma[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a greenhouse[
]. It can also be sown in spring in a greenhouse in a sandy compost[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out in the spring or early summer after the last expected frosts and give some protection in their first winter[
Division in spring or autumn[