Ephedra distachya seeds

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Ephedra distachya
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Ephedra distachya seeds

 

Ephedra distachya is locally known with its common name of Somlatha. It is a shrub in the Ephedraceae family. The plant has synonyms like Ephedra vulgaris, Ephedra Monostachya and Ephedra minor among others, though these names are not popular. The plant grows well in well-drained soil to a height of about 40cm. Somlatha is widely spread in Central and southern Europe and some parts of western Asia. It is a perennial plant and has a lifecycle of about 3 years.

Ephedra distachya plant shoots partly underground. The sub-branches of this plant have a grey-green colour and sometimes yellow-green. The apex is mostly twisted or curved with internodes of about 4cm long. The leaves are opposite, free and triangular. The pollen cones are in pair of 2-3 at the apex on the sub-branches. The seed cones of the plant have short axillary, narrow ovoid and have 3 clusters of bracts. The seeds are usually two in the fruit and dark-brown in colour and feel glossy. The fruits from Ephedra distachya plant are red and fleshy when they mature and have glucose. The plant also has flowers that bloom in late May or early June; they have a yellow colour. The plant withstands every harsh weather conditions. The stem is usually harvested at any time and can be kept for later use.

Ephedra distachya plant is dioecious, which means it needs a male flower which is separate for it to reproduce. The female flowers receive pollen from the male flowers through wind pollination. The male flowers fall after shedding the pollens.

The fruit of the plant is consumable by the birds both when raw and even after ripening. It has a sweet but insipid flavour and is about 5mm wide. Ephedra distachya is also being used widely for medical purposes to treat catarrh and asthma. This is because it has alkaloids. The plant also has antiviral impacts, majorly against influenza. The stems of the plant are smelly, warm, bitter herbs that dilate the vessels of bronchial. The herbs of this plant are usually mixed with other herbs to be effective. However, the herbs of the plant need to be used with high caution and if possible under the direction of the professional. This is because it has several effects on particular individuals like those who have high blood pressure and glaucoma should not use the herbs. The leaves of the plant also have ephedrine that should not be taken by athletes.

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