Many of Red Rock Canyon’s plants served as important foods and medicines for natives and pioneers. Ephedra plants (Ephedraceae family) certainly had their useful purposes. You can spot Nevada jointfir (Ephedra nevadensis) along the desert flats while green Mormon tea (Ephedra viridis) can be found in Red Rock’s canyons and higher elevations. Both plants have spreading branches that resemble green straws and have very tiny scale leaves. Nevada jointfir tends to be a gray-green while green Mormon tea has more of a bright yellow-green color. Teas were brewed from the stems of these plants to relieve stomach, kidney, back, and cold pains and to treat venereal disease. Today, the drug ephedrine is synthetically derived from Asian species of Ephedra and is used treat breathing problems and low blood pressure.
Note: collecting or harvesting any plants for personal or commercial use at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is prohibited.