Botanical Name: Ephedra americana andina
Synonyms: E. andina
Common Names: Joint-pine, Jointfir, Mormon-tea or Brigham tea.
Habitat: is native to S. America – Andes from Ecuador to S. Chile and Argentina.It grows on the stony slopes and gravel terraces.
Ephedra americana andina is an evergreen Shrub growing to 1.8 m (6ft).
It is in leaf all year, in flower from June to July. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). The plant is not self-fertile. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter.
Requires a well-drained loamy soil and a sunny position. Established plants are drought resistant and are also lime tolerant. One report says that this species is frost-tender, but this is not our experience. It succeeds outdoors at Cambridge Botanical Gardens and we have been growing it outdoors successfully since 1988. Plants do not flower profusely or regularly in Britain. Our plants have been producing reasonable crops since. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a greenhouse. It can also be sown in spring in a greenhouse in a sandy compost. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out in the spring or early summer after the last expected frosts and give some protection in their first winter. Division in spring or autumn. Layering.
Edible Usaes: Fruit is edible,eaten- raw. A sweet flavour, but fairly boring. The stems can be used fresh or dried and are usually made into a tea, though they can also be eaten raw.
The stems are depurative and diuretic. The stems of most members of this genus contain the alkaloid ephedrine and are valuable in the treatment of asthma and many other complaints of the respiratory system. The whole plant can be used at much lower concentrations than the isolated constituents – unlike using the isolated ephedrine, using the whole plant rarely gives rise to side-effects. Ephedra does not cure asthma but in many cases it is very effective in treating the symptoms and thus making life somewhat easier for the sufferer. The stems can be used fresh or dried and are usually made into a tea, though they can also be eaten raw. The young stems are best if eating them raw, though older stems can be used if a tea is made. The stems can be harvested at any time of the year and are dried for later use.
Other Uses : Plants can be used for ground cover, spaced about 60cm apart each way.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.