Botanical Name: Ephedra equisetina
Common Names: Muzei Ma Huang, Ma huang
Habitat:Ephedra equisetina is native to E. Asia – N. China. It grows on mountains in central and middle Asia. Dry and rocky places, 800 – 3000 metres in China.
Ephedra equisetina is an evergreen Shrub, growing up to 1(-1.5) m tall, erect or partially procumbent, with thick, well developed woody stems. Herbaceous branchlets straight, long, slender, blue-green or gray-green with a powdery bloom, 1-1.5 mm in diameter, rigid, internodes short, 1-3 cm × 1-1.5 mm, finely furrowed. Leaves opposite, brownish, 1.5-3 mm long, connate for ca. 3/4 their length, free part bluntly triangular. Pollen cones solitary or in clusters of 3 or 4 at nodes, sessile or shortly pedunculate; bracts in 3 or 4 pairs, connate for ca. 1/3 their length; staminal column slightly exserted, with 6-8 sessile anthers. Seed cones usually opposite at nodes, shortly pedunculate, elongate-ovoid or ovoid at maturity, 8-10 × 4-5 mm; bracts in 3 pairs, apical pair connate for ca. 2/3 their length, red and fleshy at maturity; integument tube to 2 mm, straight or slightly curved, slightly exserted. Seeds usually 1, elongate-ovoid, 5-7 × 2.5-3 mm. Pollination Jun-Jul, seed maturity Aug-Sep.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.
Requires a well-drained loamy soil and a sunny position. Established plants are drought resistant and are also lime tolerant. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown in fruit and seed are 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 Uses: Fruits are edible, eaten raw.
Members of this genus contain various medicinally active alkaloids (but notably ephedrine) and they are widely used in preparations for the treatment of asthma and catarrh. 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. Ephedrine has an adrenaline-like action in the body. The plant also has antiviral effects, particularly against influenza. The stems are a pungent, bitter, warm herb that dilates the bronchial vessels whilst stimulating the heart and central nervous system. They are also diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, hypertensive, nervine, pectoral, tonic, vasoconstrictor and vasodilator. They are used internally in the treatment of asthma, hay fever and allergic complaints. They are also combined with a number of other herbs and used in treating a wide range of complaints. This herb should be used with great caution, preferably under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. It should not be prescribed to patients who are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or suffering from high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism or glaucoma. Ephedrine is seen as a performance-boosting herb and, as such, is a forbidden substance in many sporting events such as athletics. The stems can be harvested at any time of the year and are dried for later use. The root is antihydrotic, it lowers blood pressure and dilates the peripheral blood vessels. It is used in the treatment of night sweating and spontaneous sweating.
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.