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Ephedra minuta

Ephedra minuta
miniature joint fir
Ephedra minuta

Common name miniature joint fir
Family ephedraceae
Life cycle shrub (Z5-9)
Flowers insignificant
Size 12"
Light sun-part shade
Cultural notes requires excellent drainage; drought tolerant

Miniature evergreen shrub, with blue-green branches without any traditionally shaped leaves. Used as a foliage plant in the rock garden. The photo above was taken in early January - the plant looks just about the same as it did 3 months earlier when we planted it. Two years later, the plant is doing its flowering thing - green pods in June turned red by late July.
Our two ephedras look about the same to me. From the online Flora of China key to distinguishing various species, this is where regeliana and minuta differ:
  1. Integument tube to 1 mm, straight; bracts of pollen cones in 14 or more pairs.
    1. Bracts of pollen cones in 1 or 2 pairs; apical bracts of seed cones much longer than others; seeds 68(10) mm, apex acuminate ....................................... E. minuta

    2. Bracts of pollen cones in (2 or)36 pairs; apical bracts of seed cones slightly longer than others; seeds shorter, apex acute or obtuse.
      1. Apical pair of bracts of seed cones connate for ca. 5/6 their length or more; seeds 3.54.5 mm : E. regeliana

Now I just need to learn about integument tubes and connate cones! The red fruiting bodies in the photos are certainly seed cones (I haven't seen pollen cones).

We left this plant behind in our Pennsylvania garden (and wish it well); we don't grow it in Houston.

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