Tuesday, August 17, 2010


A genus of 40 shrubs and some vines that are native to dry regions of Eurasia, north Africa and the America, with rush-like, mostly green branches that resembles horsetails.
The leaves are tiny and scale like. The cone like flowers are small ( to 0.5 inches ) and are followed by fleshy red berries. A tasty medicinal tea was made from the branches by the Mexican Native Indians. The Tea is made from dried or fresh chopped stems boiled for 2 minutes. Animals do not eat Ephedra.
They prefer full sun and sandy soil and make excellent rock garden plants and for groundcover. They can be reproduced from seed, layering, separating suckers from the parent and by dividing the clumps. Soak seed in water for 12 hours before sowing, no other pretreatment is needed.

* historic archive photo

* videos found on Youtube

Ephedra alata

* historic archive photo

Ephedra californica
A shrub native to central and southern California, reaching a maximum size of 6.5 x 20 feet with yellow-green stems. Hardy north to zone 6

Ephedra chilensis
Also called Ephedra americana; is an evergreen woody plant ranging from a sprawling shrub to a small tree with arching branches reaching up to 13 feet.
The shoots are green and it blooms in early summer.
Hardy zones 6 to 9

Ephedra distachya ( European Shrubby Horsetail )
A creeping, low evergreen shrub rarely reaching up to 4 x 10 feet with slender erect deep blue-green shoots and small scale like leaves. The fruits are red. It is native from southern Europe to Siberia though also grows well in much of the U.S. thriving in places such as Chicago.
Hardy zones 3 to 8

* historic archive photo

Ephedra equisetina 'Blue Stem'
A dense shrub reaching up to 6 x 8 feet with bluish stems and yellow flowers that are followed by red berries.
Hardy zones 4b to 9 and is very drought tolerant.

Ephedra foemina
* excellent photo link found on internet

Ephedra gerardiana ( Girard's Jointfir )
Native from the Himalayas to China, it is a spreading, dense, evergreen shrub reaches up to 4 x 10 or more feet though usually shorter. It looks extremely attractive combined with large boulders and Cistus - Sun Rose.
An excellent, very attractive choice for use on rocky banks, even for people with no clue of it's pharmacology.
The rush-like branches are slender and deep green.
The attractive, small red berries, up to 0.2 inches wide, may be abundant but only on plants on hot sunny sites where male and female plants are in close proximity.
Pharmacology: source of stimulant Ephedra which used in weight loss and treatment of asthma though with serious potential side effects in some people.
Hardy zones 5 to 8. This plant occurs in high mountains in the wild and some of the hardiest seed sources may be hardier further north than zone 4, more testing needs to be done. This plant grows well in lowland climates but sure does thrive at high altitude locations ( ex. Denver CO, Cheyenne, WY ) where drought occurs and severe temperature fluctuations are common.

subsp. 'Sikkimensis'
A lower groundcover form, reaching up to 2 feet in height.

Ephedra major
An erect evergreen shrub that reaches up to 7 feet that is native from the Mediterranean to the Himalayas.
The branches are wiry and glaucous blue.
Hardy zones 6 to 10 and extremely drought tolerant.

* historical archive photo

Ephedra minima
A slow growing, very small shrub, reaching only up to 6 inches x 2 feet, that is native to Tibet and China. It makes a great xeric plant for the rock garden.
Hardy zones 3 to 7.

Ephedra monosperma
A small shrub, reaching up to 10 inches x 2 + feet in size, that is native to Asia ( from central Asia to Mongolia and eastern Russia; south to far northern Pakistan to northern China ). It often spreads by runners.
The mid-green stems resemble that of horsetail.
The bright red fruits provide nice contrast.
Hardy zones 4 to 9 in full sun on very well drained soil. It is very drought tolerant. New plants are slow to establish.

* photo taken on August 3 2010 @ University of Guelph Arboretum, Ontario

Ephedra nevadensis ( Mormon Tea )
A moderate growing, erect shrub reaching up to 5 x 12 feet with pale green twigs that is native to Nevada and southeast California.
Hardy zones 6 to 9

* photo taken by Jean Pawek @ CalPhotos

* historical archive photo

Ephedra sinensis ( Ma Huang )
Also called Ephedra sinica. A shrub, reaching up to 6 x 3 feet, that is native to Mongolia and China.
The green stems resemble that of horsetail.
The fleshy red fruits provide nice contrast.
Hardy zones 6 to 10 in full sun.

Ephedra trifurca ( Longleaf Joint Fir )
Native to the U.S.-Mexican border and south into Mexico and the Baja Peninsula, reaching up to 17 x 15 feet with pale green stems. Records include: largest on record - trunk diameter of 2.5 feet; largest individual branch diameter - 0.8 feet.
Hardy zones 8 to 10 in full sun on very well drained soil.

* historical archive photos

Ephedra viridis ( Mormon Joint Fir )
An erect evergreen shrub to 4 feet that is native to the western U.S. from Utah to southwest Wyoming; south to California to northern New Mexico. Some records include: 5 years - 2 feet; largest on record - 7 x 12 feet.
The branches are slender and vivid green. The foliage is awl-like and luxuriant green.
Hardy zones 4 to 8, it is very drought tolerant.

Ephedra vulgaris ( Ma Huang )
This is the species of Ephedra that contains the chemical compound Ephedrine.

1 comment:

  1. The most well known sort of ephedrine is a type of stimulant based on the plant ephedra extract and has been utilized in Chinese medicine for significantly more than 5, 000 years for treating asthma, colds, hay fever and more. Referred to as ephedra sinica in Chinese, this natural stimulant increases heart rate, stimulates brain activity, constricts blood vessels and opens the bronchial tubes.

    ephedrine hcl 30 mg