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Ephedra is one of three genera in the gymnosperm group of seed plants known as Gnetales, whose relationship to other plants has long been a subject of controversy among botanists and evolutionary biologists. Ephedra includes around 50 species, which are distributed in both temperate and subtropical arid environments in the Northern Hemisphere and South America. About a dozen of these species, often known as Mormon Tea, are found in arid regions in western North America.
(Loera and Ickert-Bond 2012)