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Ephedra minuta Florin


Description from Flora of China

Ephedra minuta var. dioeca C. Y. Cheng

Subshrubs small, 5-25 cm, dioecious (perhaps rarely monoecious); woody stems short or absent; branchlets erect or slightly spreading, dark green, prominently furrowed, internodes 1.5-3 cm × 1.2-1.5 mm. Leaves opposite, to 4.5 mm, connate for 1/3-2/3 their length, apex sharply pointed, recurved. Pollen cones borne mainly on distal part of branchlets, solitary or opposite at nodes, sessile or rarely pedunculate (peduncle 0-1 cm); bracts in 1 or 2 pairs, connate for ca. 1/4 their length; staminal column exserted, anthers 6-8, sessile. Seed cones usually solitary, terminal on short, lateral branches arising mainly from proximal part of primary branches, rarely terminal also on longer branches, subsessile or shortly pedunculate, oblong or oblong-ovoid at maturity; bracts in 2 or 3 pairs, apical pair much longer than others and connate for ca. 1/2 their length, red, fleshy, and often pruinose at maturity; integument tube 0.5-1 mm, straight. Seeds 1 or 2, purplish black, 6-8(-10) × 2-3 mm, usually exserted (perhaps rarely concealed by bracts), pruinose, apex acuminate. Pollination May-Jul, seed maturity Aug-Sep. 2n = 14*.

H. Riedl notes that the Chinese plants described here do not correspond well with Florin’s original description of Ephedra minuta. Most important is the difference in the number of bracts in male cones: 3-6 pairs here vs. 1 or 2 pairs according to Florin. Other characters

described differently are the presence or absence of monoecious plants, length of leaves, and color of seeds. Further study is required to ascertain whether the Chinese plants are truly E. minuta.

This species has medicinal properties.

* High mountains; 2000-4800 m. Qinghai, Sichuan


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