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Common Name: Mormon Tea
Ephedra viridis is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 1.80 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
South-western N. America - California to Colorado and Arizona.
Dry rocky slopes, gravel terraces and canyon walls, often on limestone, at elevations of 800 - 2500 metres[
Requires a well-drained loamy soil and a sunny position[
]. Established plants are drought resistant and are also lime tolerant[
This species is not very hardy in Britain, it succeeds well in a cold greenhouse but is often killed outdoors by a combination of cold and wet conditions[
Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if fruit and seed is required.
Fruit - raw. A sweet flavour.
Seed - cooked. A bitter flavour, it is roasted and ground into a powder and used to make a bread or mush[
A delicious tea is made by steeping the green or dried twigs in boiling water[
]. The flavour is said to be improved if the stems are roasted first[
This plant has a wide reputation as a cure for syphilis[
]. A strong decoction of the stems was drunk and a poultice of the pulverized or boiled stems applied to the sores[
The stems are blood purifier, diuretic and tonic[
]. An infusion has been used in the treatment of coughs and colds, anaemia, rheumatism, stomach ulcers and other disorders, kidney problems[
]. The dried, powdered stems are used as a dressing on sores and burns[
The stems of most members of this genus contain the alkaloid ephedrine and are valuable in the treatment of asthma and many other complaints of the respiratory system[
]. The whole plant can be used at much lower concentrations than the isolated constituents - unlike using the isolated ephedrine, using the whole plant rarely gives rise to side-effects[
]. Ephedra does not cure asthma but in many cases it is very effective in treating the symptoms and thus making life somewhat easier for the sufferer. The stems can be used fresh or dried and are usually made into a tea, though they can also be eaten raw[
]. The young stems are best if eating them raw, though older stems can be used if a tea is made[
]. The stems can be harvested at any time of the year and are dried for later use[
The twigs, boiled with alum, produce a light tan dye[
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[