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Ephedra californica
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California Jointfir
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Ephedra californica

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About California Jointfir (Ephedra californica) Ephedra californica is a species of Ephedra known by the common names California jointfir, California ephedra, desert tea, and caatillo. It is native to southern California, Arizona, and Baja California, where it grows in varied scrub and open habitats, including chaparral and grassland. This is a spindly shrub made up of twigs which are greenish when new and age to a yellowish-gray color and have fine longitudinal grooves on their surfaces. It may exceed a meter in height. The tiny leaves grow at nodes on the twigs and dry and crumble away to leave brownish ridges there. Male plants produce clumps of pollen cones at the nodes and female plants produce egg-shaped seed cones each about a centimeter long.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
3.3 - 5 ft (1 - 1.5 m)

Flower Color

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry grassy places


Elevation ?
-203' - 8045'

Annual Precip. ?
2.6" - 27.8"

Summer Precip. ?
0.16" - 3.55"

Coldest Month ?
35.4° F - 59.4° F

Hottest Month ?
61.1° F - 88.8° F

Humidity ?
1.03 vpd - 40.98 vpd

Sunset Zones ?
7*, 8*, 9*, 10*, 11*, 12*, 14*, 15, 16, 17, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22, 23, 24

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low, Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Desert Tea, California Ephedra, Caatillo

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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