Gymnosperms (Seed Producing Plants: Conifers, Cycads, Ginkgo) •

Ephedra minima

(Ephedra monosperma)



Ephedra monosperma, also called Ephedra minima or dan zi ma huang (in Chinese), is small shrub in the family of Ephedraceae. It is distributed from China to Siberia and found growing in rocky slopes or dry places. Its ephedrine extract has been used in traditional medicine in China and Japan, but is banned in USA since 1994 for causing various adverse effects. Ephedra monosperma is perennial small shrub that ranges 5 cm to 15 cm high, often with creeping runners. The woody stems are much branched and short, 1–5 cm, and have knotted nodes. Branchlets are spreading and slim usually with slight curved shape. Internodes of branchlets are 1–3 cm long, 1 mm in diameter. The leaves are opposite, basal 1/3–2/3 connate their length. There is one ovule in each cone that is enclosed by two pairs of cone bracts. Pollen cones, consist of 3 or 4 pairs of decussate scales with broad margin, are oblong-spherical shaped, sessile or subsessile at nodes and paired or rarely solitary. Bracts of pollen cones are in 2 to 4 pairs, 1/2 connate their length. It pollinates in June, has matured seeds in August, and flowers from May. Seed cones are solitary or opposite at nodes, sessile, and ovoid at maturity. The mature cones are fleshy, red, and glaucose, 6–9 mm long, 5–8 mm across.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Plantae
Class: Gnetopsida
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