Ephedra (plant)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Ephedraceae)
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the genus Ephedra. For the use of the plant in medicine, see Ephedra.
Pollença - Ma-2210 - Cap de Formentor - Ephedra fragilis 05 ies.jpg
Ephedra fragilis in Mallorca
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Gnetophyta
Class: Gnetopsida
Order: Ephedrales
Family: Ephedraceae
Genus: Ephedra
Map showing the range of Ephedra

Chaetocladus J.Nelson

Ephedra is a genus of gymnosperm shrubs, the only genus in its family, Ephedraceae, and order, Ephedrales. The various species of Ephedra are widespread in many lands, native to southwestern North America, southern Europe, northern Africa, and southwest and central Asia, northern China, and western South America.[2]

In temperate climates, most Ephedra species grow on shores or in sandy soils with direct sun exposure. Common names in English include Joint-pine, Jointfir, Mormon-tea or Brigham Tea. The Chinese name for the Ephedra species is mahuang (simplified Chinese: 麻黄; traditional Chinese: 麻黃; pinyin: máhuáng; Wade–Giles: ma-huang; literally: "cannabis yellow"). Ephedras is also sometimes called sea grape (from the French raisin de mer), a common name for the flowering plant Coccoloba uvifera.

Ephedra fragilis
Pollen cones
Ephedra distachya: ripe female cones with seeds

Medical uses[edit]

Plant as used in Chinese herbology (crude medicine)
Main article: Ephedra

Plants of the Ephedra genus, including E. sinica and others, have traditionally been used by indigenous people for a variety of medicinal purposes, including treatment of asthma, hay fever, and the common cold.[3] The alkaloids ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are active constituents of E. sinica and other members of the genus. These compounds are sympathomimetics with stimulant and decongestant qualities and are related chemically to the amphetamines.

Pollen of Ephedra spp. was found in the Shanidar IV burial site in Iraq, suggesting its use as a medicinal plant dates to over 60,000 years ago.[4] It has been suggested that Ephedra may be the Soma plant of Indo-Iranian religion.[5]


Accepted species:[2]

  1. Ephedra alata Decne - North Africa, Arabian Peninsula
  2. Ephedra altissima Desf. - North Africa, Canary Islands
  3. Ephedra americana Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd. - Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Chile
  4. Ephedra antisyphilitica Berland ex C.A.Meyer – Clapweed, Erect Ephedra - Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nuevo León, Coahuila, Chihuahua
  5. Ephedra aphylla Forssk. - eastern Mediterranean from Libya and Cyprus to the Persian Gulf
  6. Ephedra × arenicola H.C.Cutler - Arizona, Utah (hybrid, E. cutleri × E. torreyana)
  7. Ephedra aspera Engelm. ex S.Wats. – Boundary Ephedra, Pitamoreal - Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, Sinaloa, Sonora, Baja California
  8. Ephedra aurantiaca Takht. & Pachom. - Caucasus, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan
  9. Ephedra boelckei F.A.Roig - Argentina
  10. Ephedra botschantzevii Pachom. - Kazakhstan, Tuva region of Siberia
  11. Ephedra breana Phil. - Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina
  12. Ephedra brevifoliata Ghahr. - Iran
  13. Ephedra californica S.Wats. – California Ephedra, California Jointfir - California, western Arizona, Baja California
  14. Ephedra chilensis C.Presl[ - Chile, Argentina
  15. Ephedra compacta Rose - widespread in much of Mexico
  16. Ephedra coryi E.L.Reed – Cory's Ephedra - Texas, New Mexico
  17. Ephedra cutleri Peebles – Navajo Ephedra, Cutler's Ephedra, Cutler Mormon-tea, Cutler's Jointfir - Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming
  18. Ephedra dahurica Turcz. - Siberia, Mongolia
  19. Ephedra dawuensis Y.Yang - Sichuan
  20. Ephedra distachya L. – Joint-pine, Jointfir - southern Europe and central Asia from Portugal to Kazakhstan
  21. Ephedra × eleutherolepis V.A.Nikitin - Tajikistan (hybrid E. intermedia × E. strobilacea)
  22. Ephedra equisetina Bunge – Ma huang - Caucasus, Central Asia, Siberia, Mongolia, Gansu, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shanxi, Xinjiang
  23. Ephedra fasciculata A.Nelson – Arizona Ephedra, Arizona Jointfir, Desert Mormon-tea - Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah
  24. Ephedra fedtschenkoae Paulsen - Central Asia, Siberia, Mongolia, Xinjiang
  25. Ephedra foeminea Forssk. - North Africa, Somalia, Balkans, Italy, Middle East; naturalized in Santa Barbara County of California
  26. Ephedra foliata Boiss. ex C.A.Mey. - North Africa, Somalia, Middle East, India
  27. Ephedra fragilis Desf. - Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Madeira
  28. Ephedra frustillata Miers – Patagonian Ephedra - Chile, Argentina
  29. Ephedra funerea Coville & Morton – Death Valley Ephedra, Death Valley Jointfir - California, Arizona, Nevada
  30. Ephedra gerardiana Wallich ex C.A.Meyer – Gerard's Jointfir, Shan Ling Ma Huang - Himalayas, Tibet, Yunnan, Siberia, Central Asia
  31. Ephedra glauca Regel - Iran, Central Asia, Mongolia
  32. Ephedra holoptera Riedl - Iran
  33. Ephedra intermedia Schrenk & C.A.Meyer - China, Siberia, Central Asia, Himalayas, Iran, Pakistan
  34. Ephedra × intermixta H.C.Cutler - New Mexico (hybrid E. trifurca × E. torreyana)
  35. Ephedra kardangensis P.Sharma & P.L.Uniyal - western Himalayas
  36. Ephedra khurikensis P.Sharma & P.L.Uniyal - western Himalayas
  37. Ephedra laristanica Assadi - Iran
  38. Ephedra likiangensis Florin - Guizhou, Sichuan, Tibet, Yunnan
  39. Ephedra lomatolepis Schrenk - Kazakhstan, Tuva region of Siberia
  40. Ephedra major Host - Mediterranean, Middle East, Central Asia; from Canary Islands to Kashmir
  41. Ephedra milleri Freitag & Maier-St. - Oman, Yemen
  42. Ephedra minuta Florin - Qinghai, Sichuan
  43. Ephedra monosperma C.A.Meyer - Siberia, Mongolia, much of China including Tibet and Xinjiang
  44. Ephedra multiflora Phil. ex Stapf - Chile, Argentina
  45. Ephedra nevadensis S.Wats. – Nevada Ephedra, Nevada Jointfir, Nevada Mormon-tea - Baja California, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Oregon
  46. Ephedra ochreata Miers - Argentina
  47. Ephedra oxyphylla Riedl - Afghanistan
  48. Ephedra pachyclada Boiss. - Middle East from Sinai and Yemen to Pakistan
  49. Ephedra pedunculata Engelm. ex S.Wats. – Vine Ephedra, Vine Jointfir - Texas, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, San Luis Potosí, Nuevo León, Zacatecas
  50. Ephedra pentandra Pachom. - Iran
  51. Ephedra przewalskii Stapf - Central Asia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Qinghai, Tibet
  52. Ephedra pseudodistachya Pachom. - Siberia, Mongolia
  53. Ephedra regeliana Florin – Xi Zi Ma Huang - Central Asia, Siberia, Pakistan, Xinjiang
  54. Ephedra rhytidosperma Pachom. - Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Mongolia
  55. Ephedra rituensis Y.Yang, D.Z.Fu & G.H.Zhu - Qinghai, Xinjiang, Tibet
  56. Ephedra rupestris Benth. - Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina
  57. Ephedra sarcocarpa Aitch. & Hemsl. -Pakiostan, Afghanistan
  58. Ephedra sinica Stapf – Cao Ma Huang, Chinese ephedra - Mongolia, Siberia, Primorye, Manchuria
  59. Ephedra somalensis Freitag & Maier-St. - Somalia, Eritrea
  60. Ephedra strobilacea Bunge - Iran, Central Asia
  61. Ephedra sumlingensis P.Sharma & P.L.Uniyal - western Himalayas
  62. Ephedra tilhoana Maire - Chad
  63. Ephedra torreyana S.Wats. – Torrey's Ephedra, Torrey's Jointfir, Torrey's Mormon-tea, Cañutillo - Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Chihuahua
  64. Ephedra transitoria Riedl - Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia
  65. Ephedra triandra Tul. -Bolivia, Argentina
  66. Ephedra trifurca Torrey ex S.Wats. – Longleaf Ephedra, Longleaf Jointfir, Longleaf Mormon-tea, Popotilla, Teposote - California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Chihuahua, Sonora, Baja California
  67. Ephedra tweedieana C.A.Mey. - Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay
  68. Ephedra viridis Coville – Green Ephedra, Green Mormon-tea - California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Oregon
  69. Ephedra vvedenskyi Pachom. - Iran, Caucasus, Turkmenistan

Economic botany and alkaloid content[edit]

Earliest uses of Ephedra spp. (Ma Huang) for specific illnesses date back to 5000 BC. Ephedrine and isomers were already isolated in 1881 from Ephedra dystachia and characterized by the Japanese organic chemist Nagai Nagayoshi of the 19th century. His work to access Ephedra drug materials to isolate a pure pharmaceutical substance, and the systematic production of semi-synthetic derivatives thereof is relevant still today as the three species Ephedra sinica, Ephedra vulgaris and to a lesser extent Ephedra equisetina are commercially grown in Mainland China as a source for natural ephedrines and isomers for use in pharmacy. E. sinica and E. vulgaris usually carry six optically active phenylethylamines, mostly ephedrine and pseudoephedrine with minor amounts of norephedrine, norpseudoephedrine as well as the three methylated analogs. Reliable information on the total alkaloid content of the crude drug is difficult to obtain. Based on HPLC analyses in industrial settings, the concentrations of total alkaloids in dried Herba Ephedra ranged between 1 to 4%, and in some cases up to 6%.[6]

For a review of the alkaloid distribution in different species of the genus Ephedra see Jian-fang Cui (1991).[7] Other American and European species of Ephedra, e.g. Ephedra nevadensis (Nevada Mormon tea) have not been systematically assayed; based on unpublished field investigations, they contain very low levels (less than 0.1%) or none at all.[8]


  1. ^ a b Kramer, K.U.; (illustrations), P.S. Green ; assisted by E. Götz (1990). Kramer, K.U.; Green, P.S., ed. The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants, Vol. 1: Pteridophytes and Gymnosperms. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. pp. 379–381. ISBN 3540517944. 
  2. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ Abourashed E, El-Alfy A, Khan I, Walker L (2003). "Ephedra in perspective—a current review". Phytother Res 17 (7): 703–12. doi:10.1002/ptr.1337. PMID 12916063. 
  4. ^ Solecki, Ralph S. (1975). "Shanidar IV, a Neanderthal Flower Burial in Northern Iraq". Science 190 (4217): 880–881. doi:10.1126/science.190.4217.880. JSTOR 1741776. 
  5. ^ Rudgley, Richard (1993). The Alchemy of Culture. London: British Museum Press. pp. 44–45. ISBN 0-7141-2711-6. 
  6. ^ Brossi, Arnold (ed) (1989), The Alkaloids: Chemistry and Pharmacology, Vol. 35, ISBN 0-12-469535-3.
  7. ^ Cui, Jian-fang et al. (1991). "Analysis of alkaloids in Chinese Ephedra species by GC methods". Phytochemical Analysis 2 (3): 116–119. doi:10.1002/pca.2800020305. 
  8. ^ Hegnauer R. (1962) "Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen. I". Birkhauser Verlag, Basel; Switzerland, pp. 460–462 as cited in Roman MC (2004). "Determination of ephedrine alkaloids in botanicals and dietary supplements by HPLC-UV: collaborative study". J AOAC Int. 87 (1): 1–14. PMID 15084081. 

External links[edit]