Ephedra distachya

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Ephedra distachya
Ephedra distachya (with cones) 2011 1.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Gnetophyta
Class: Gnetopsida
Order: Ephedrales
Family: Ephedraceae
Genus: Ephedra
Species: E. distachya
Binomial name
Ephedra distachya
  • Chaetocladus distachys (L.) J.Nelson
  • Ephedra monostachya L.
  • Ephedra polygonoides Pall. 1815 not Siev. 1796
  • Ephedra vulgaris Rich., illegitimate name
  • Ephedra minor Host
  • Ephedra botryoides Fisch.
  • Ephedra media C.A.Mey.
  • Ephedra subtristachya C.A.Mey.
  • Ephedra arborea Lag. ex Bertol.
  • Ephedra clusii Dufour
  • Ephedra macrocephala Bertol.
  • Ephedra maritima St.-Lag.
  • Ephedra dubia Regel
  • Ephedra podostylax Boiss.
  • Ephedra linnaei Stapf ex Koehne
  • Ephedra helvetica C.A.Mey.
  • Ephedra rigida St.-Lag.
  • Ephedra negrii Nouviant

Ephedra distachya is a shrub in the family Ephedraceae, about 25 cm to 50 cm high, that grows in southern and central Europe and parts of western and central Asia from Portugal to Kazakhstan.[2][3] Its local names include somlatha.

  1. Ephedra distachya subsp. distachya - central + southern Europe, southwestern + central Asia
  2. Ephedra distachya subsp. helvetica (C.A.Mey.) Asch. & Graebn. - Switzerland, France, Italy, Slovenia, Austria


It is used to relieve acute muscular and rheumatic pains (when it is called teamsters' tea), as a stimulant, and in the cardio tonics in Ayurveda.[citation needed] It is sometimes identified with the legendary drug soma, as described in the Avesta and the Rig Veda, the respective ancient sacred texts of the Zoroastrian and Hindu faiths.

Ephedrine, an alkaloid, is obtained from its dried branches and is used as a stimulant, often to control asthma. It was isolated from the plant by Nagayoshi Nagai in 1885. All parts of the plant contain up to 3% ephedrine.[4]



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