Shrubs erect, 0.5--1.5 m. Bark gray, cracked and fissured. Branches opposite or whorled, rigid, angle of divergence about 30°. Twigs pale to dark green, becoming yellow with age, not viscid, slightly to strongly scabrous, with numerous longitudinal grooves; internodes 1--6 cm. Terminal buds conic, 1--2 mm, apex obtuse. Leaves opposite (rarely in whorls of 3), 1--3(--5) mm, connate to 1/2--7/8 their length; bases thickened, brown, shredding with age, ± persistent; apex obtuse. Pollen cones 2 (rarely 1 or whorled) at node, obovoid, 4--7 mm, sessile or rarely on short peduncles; bracts opposite, 6--10 pairs, yellow to red-brown, obovate, 3--4 × 2--3 mm, membranous; bracteoles slightly exceeding bracts; sporangiophores 4--5 mm, 1/2 exserted, with 4--6 sessile to short-stalked (less than 1 mm) microsporangia. Seed cones usually 2 at node, ovoid, 6--10 mm, sessile or on short, scaly peduncles; bracts opposite, 5--7 pairs, circular, 4--7 × 2--4 mm, membranous, with red-brown thickened center and base, margins entire. Seed 1, ellipsoid, 5--8 × 2--4 mm, light brown to brown, smooth to slightly scabrous.
Coning March--April. Dry rocky slopes, ravines, and fans; 500--1800 m; Ariz., Calif., N.Mex., Tex.; n Mexico.
Wiggins 1964, Benson and Darrow 1981, Kearney and Peebles 1969
Common Name: rough jointfir Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Shrub General: Erect shrub to 150 cm tall with spreading branches and erect shoots 20-30 cm; branches stiff, terete, 1.5-3 mm in diameter; opposite or in whorls at nodes; pale green to dark green; not glaucous. Needles: Scales, opposite 1-2.5 mm long, connate from one-half to most of their length, obtuse, sheath splitting. Cones: Staminate cones paired, obovate, 4-7 mm long, sessile, bracts in 6-10 pairs, 2 mm wide, yellowish to reddish brown; ovulate cones ovate, 6-10 mm long, sessile or short-pedunculate, bracts in 5-7 pairs, orbicular, thickened centrally, scarious toward margins, reddish brown. Seeds: Solitary seeds, light brown, terete or obscurely trigonous in cross section, 2.5-4 mm wide, 5-8 mm long, smooth. Ecology: Found on desert slopes and flats, often on rocky or gravelly substrates from 1,000-4,000 ft (305-1219 m); flowers January-April. Distribution: AZ, CA, NM, TX; south to n MEX Notes: Told apart from E. trifurca by the presence of parts in twos. Pale to dark green in youth, turning yellow with age. When leaves drop they leave brown or black leaf bases behind. This is one of the more widespread species in the Sonoran desert. Quite similar to E. fascicularis and E. nevadensis. According to the FNA key, E. aspera has twigs usually scabrous; bracts of pollen cones yellow to red-brown; seeds smooth to slightly scabrous. E. fasciculata has twigs smooth or very slightly scabrous; bracts of pollen cones light yellow; seeds furrowed. Both E. aspera and E. fasciculata have persistent and shredding leaf bases which are brown and turning gray with age, while E. nevadensis has brown, completely deciduous leaf bases. Ethnobotany: Used to treat syphilis, pneumonia, kidney disease and other ailments. Etymology: Ephedra is from Greek ephedra, used by Pliny for common mare's tail, while aspera means rough. Synonyms: Ephedra nevadensis var. aspera, E. reedii Editor: SBuckley, 2010