7. Ephedra sinica Stapf, Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew. 1927: 133. 1927.
草麻黄 cao ma huang
Ephedra ma-huang Liu.
Subshrubs small, to 40 cm, sparsely branched; woody stems short or prostrate; branchlets straight or curved, sometimes slightly involute, internodes (2.5-)3-4(-5.5) cm × ca. 2 mm, shallowly furrowed. Leaves opposite, connate for 1/3-2/3 their length, free part subulate to narrowly triangular, to 5 mm, apex sharply pointed. Pollen cones sessile or pedunculate, solitary or in clusters at nodes, rarely terminal; bracts in 4 pairs, margin very narrow, membranous, apex obtuse or subacute; anthers 7 or 8, sessile or shortly stipitate. Seed cones terminal or axillary, solitary, oblong-ovoid or subglobose, ca. 8 × 6-7 mm at maturity; bracts in 4 pairs, connate for 1/2-3/4 their length, red and fleshy at maturity; integument tube 1-2 mm, straight or slightly curved. Seeds usually 2, black-red or grayish brown, concealed by or equaling bracts. Pollination May-Jun, seed maturity Aug-Sep. 2n = 28*.
Waste and sandy places, plains, mountain slopes; 700-1600 m. Gansu, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi [Mongolia]
It seems likely that Ephedra sinica var. pumila Florin, Kongl. Svenska Vetenskapsakad. Handl., ser. 3, 12: 11. 1933, will also be found in China. It differs from var. sinica in its very low growth habit, often curved or involute branches, shorter nodes, and seed cones with only 2 or 3 pairs of bracts. The most appropriate taxonomic rank for this taxon is uncertain.
This species has medicinal properties.