Nevada Jointfir (Nevadensis)

The Nevada Jointfir (Nevadensis) is generally described as a perennial subshrub or shrub. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The Nevada Jointfir (Nevadensis) has green foliage and inconspicuous yellow flowers, with a moderate amount of conspicuous brown fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are retained year to year. The Nevada Jointfir (Nevadensis) has a short life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Nevada Jointfir (Nevadensis) will reach up to 3 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 3 feet.

The Nevada Jointfir (Nevadensis) generally appears in field collections and doesn't tend to be commercially available. It can be propagated by bare root, container, cuttings, seed. It has a moderate ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have low vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -13°F. has none tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

General Characteristics

General: Ephedra Family (Ephedraceae). Gray ephedra is a dioecious, xerophytic shrub with jointed or fluted stems and scale-like leaves. Leaf scales are in twos, 2-6mm long, sheathing to about the middle, and obtuse to acute at the apex. The inflorescence is conelike and the staminate flowers have united filaments. The ovulate spikes are distinctly stalked and the seeds are usually paired.

Required Growing Conditions

Gray ephedra occurs naturally on flats and slopes in all the creosote bush deserts at mostly 1,000 to 4,000 ft (305-1,220 m) elevation and sometimes it is found in the desert grassland up to 5,000 ft. (1,524 m). It inhabits California in the eastern Mojave and Colorado deserts, southern Nevada in Clark and Lincoln counties, southwestern Utah, Arizona in the Grand Canyon area and in the Mojave. It also occurs in Arizona and Colorado deserts, New Mexico along the Gila and Pecos river drainage, TransPecos Texas, the Edwards Plateau, and at scattered locations on the Rio Grande Plain, Baja California to Coahuila and Central Mexico (Benson and Darrow 1981). Characteristic species are creosotebush, white bursage, Joshua tree, blackbrush, catclaw, burrobush, big galleta, Indian ricegrass, black grama, bush muhly, and desert needlegrass.

For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Cultivation and Care

On good seed years abundant collections of ephedra seeds can be obtained by flailing the fruiting branches over an open tray (Young 1986). Seed is harvested by hand from native stands. No seed fields have been established and no work has been done to determine the best method of mechanically harvesting the seed. The plants' response to clipping for harvest is also undetermined (USDA 1983). Collected seed was cleaned with ease to a high purity with a fanning mill equipped with a No. 12 top screen and a No. 1/12 bottom screen (Kay 1975a). The seeds germinate best at alternating temperature requirements with quite cold nighttime temperatures. Seedlings grow rapidly and can be easily transplanted (Young 1986). Germination of gray ephedra seed was optimal when the temperature alternated between 20 C (16 hours) and 25 C (2 hours). It germinates well in the range of 10 and 20 C, but is highest at 20 C (Kay 1977).

Gray ephedra should perform best on limy sites, most textures, excluding clay and silty clay textures. According to Young, Evans, and Kay (1977), Ephedra nevadensis appears to have an adaptation for seed germination under osmotic potentials as low as -12 bars and thus could be seeded in salt-desert conditions. Depth-of-planting studies resulted in the emergence of 30% (42% on a viable-seed basis, with insect damaged seed removed) from a depth of 1 cm over a 10-day period with temperatures averaging about 10 C. Total emergence was similar at 2 cm, though slightly delayed. Roughly 13% (18% viable seed) emergence, delayed further, was recorded for 4 cm (Kay 1975). Seed storage at room temperature for 12 months after maturity reduced germinability (Young 1977).

Cultivars, Improved and Selected Materials (and area of origin) EPNE is available through native plant nurseries and seed companies within its range. Seeds and plants of selected Ephedra cultivars are available from many nurseries. It is best to plant species from your local area, adapted to the specific site conditions where the plants are to be grown. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

References Benson & Darrow 1981. Trees and shrubs of the southwestern deserts. The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona.

Fowler, C.S. 1986 Subsistence. pp. 64-97, IN Handbook of North American Indians Vol. 11 Great Basin. Warren L. D'azevedo [Ed.]. Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

Jordan, G.L. Range seeding and brush

General Upkeep and Control

EPVI"Reduce plant competition and animal populations, if not already at low levels or excluded, during stand establishment, and balance animal populations with long term conservative usable herbage supply (Pater 1991). "

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Subshrub, Shrub
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Short
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Field Collections Only
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Multiple Stem
Drought Tolerance None
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 3
Vegetative Spread Slow
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance Medium
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Moderate
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Cuttings, Seed
Moisture Requirements Low
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -13
Soil Depth for Roots 6
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Moderate
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 7–8.5 pH
Precipitation Range 7–7 inches/yr
Planting Density 1200–2700 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 6
Minimum Frost-Free Days 150 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance Low
CaCO3 Tolerance High
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention Yes
Palatability High
Fire Resistant Yes
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA