Summary of ephedra and its traditional use

Kumeyaay name: hpiip

Mormon Tea (Ephedra californica)


Ephedra is a gymnosperm. These are ancient plants that arose in the geologic record long before the flowering plants. Similar to other conifers, Ephedra has branches with joints and tiny seed cones. In fact, this interesting plant mostly consists of just twiggy stems. Mormon Tea grows throughout the Kumeyaay region of southern California.

The Kumeyaay boiled the green, twiggy branches to make a tea that could improve kidney function. An infusion of these same branches is also used to purify blood, improve the appetite and ease a stomach-ache caused from eating too much food.



Jointed stems of the Ephedra

photo credit: Stan Shebs CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons