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- Gnetophyte family
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Here is EcoReality's seed inventory for Ephedraceae:
|ID||common name||family||latin name||date||quantity||action||days to germ||propagation||days to maturity||habitat||sun||drainage||soil||inventory||notes||nutrients||needs||use|
|7||Ephedra; Ma-Huang||Ephedraceae||Ephedra sinica, sinensis (dg fo pf wp)||2013-05-22 00:00:00||60 each seeds in 8cc blocks||plant||11||The seed is easy to germinate in a warm, sandy medium. Strew the seed on surface of very sandy potting soil (50% sand) and barely cover with more of the same potting soil. Tamp securely and keep evenly moist until germination, which in the greenhouse or under propagation lights should take about 11 days. If you are trying to do this outside in the garden it might take longer, as cold nights will prolong germination times. Basically you want to provide as much control as possible (ie plant in flats, not in the garden dirt) because the seedlings are small and you need to work them up to about 4 inches before transplanting. After germination, back off on the watering because the young seedlings can easily damp off -- this is a desert plant.||127||Does well in pots. We grow the plants in a sand mulch, about 4 inches thick, in the full sun, with moderate watering. They create, in 2 or 3 years, a stubby, woody trunk bristling with the jointed stems. Cold hardy. Note on germination: Seed gave 80% germination in 11 days at 65 degrees F.||full sun||well drained||50 each||Perennial, primitive shrub. Native to the steppes of north and northwestern China. Rare offering of the main official species. Does well in pots.
Dried stem is a natural adrenergic stimulant to the central nervous system and a bronchodilator for treating colds and asthma. The whole herb, dried and used in small doses, poses no threat to the health. However, the very young, the very old, and the pregnant mother would best avoid using this stimulating herb.
Ma-huang prefers full sun and dry, sandy soils.
The flower is inconspicuous, but the fruits are quite fascinating -- fleshy scales adhered together at the end of the branch, colored orange, gooey and mucilagenous, and very sweet to the taste, containing the paired seeds with their flattened sides lightly clasped together.
More notes: There's a reason why Ephedra sinica is the official herb used for making the Chinese medicine Ma-huang. It has high concentrations of the various Ephedrine alkaloids and it has them in the naturally balanced state. It's a whole herb, and can be used in the form of the dried "stems" as a tea. The tea is used as a bronchial dilator -- very helpful for asthmatics, and like coffee, gently stimulating to the CNS (central nervous system). Its not dangerous when used at reasonable dosage (a cup or two) as an herbal tea. When the Ephedrine is concentrated (made into a drug, no longer an herb) then it can certainly be dangerous. We're suggesting using the herb in the traditional manner, at reasonable dosage, not as a white powdered concentrate that can overstimulate the heart!In any form, Ma-huang is not a good herb to use if you are pregnant, nursing, very young, very old, or with a preexisting heart condition. Prudence is recommended! Other sources of Ma-huang also contain alot of Ephedrine alkaloids. In general, Ephedra sinica has a higher total alkaloid content than the other species. Ephedra equisitina is higher in Ephedrine than pseudoephedrine. Ephedra intermedia is higher in pseudoephedrine than ephedrine. Ephedrine levels may vary according to how old the plants are, where they are grown, when the seed is harvested, how the herb is processes, whether the nodes are used or not, how long the dried herb has been stored, etc. etc. Our plants are starters only. You can't make a useable quantity of dried herb off of them because they are too small -- the plants need to be planted out in a good situation and grown out for a couple of years before they get big enough to harvest.
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