Joint Fir

Joint Fir (Ephedra)

The nondescript look of this broom-like trailside bush belies its turbulent history. Also called Mormon tea, it contains ephedra, a powerful stimulant used medicinally worldwide for millennia. Ephedra was a popular dietary aid until high-profile deaths caused an FDA ban. The food supplement industry spent millions over a decade fighting the ruling until the Supreme Court upheld it. Seven species of the tangled, branching plant grow statewide, but don’t look for showy flowers. Tiny pea-size cones on the twiggy branches produce pollen and seeds in the early spring.

Provided by George Miller, president of the Albuquerque chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico;