Ephedra L.

Genus comprised of 9 species in North Africa. Its distribution is mostly Mediterranean, with some species reaching S to the central Sahara. One species, E. alata, is clearly Saharan and another E. tilhoana, is restricted to the Tibesti Massif in Chad.

Ickert-Bond, S.M. & Renner, S.S. 2016. The Gnetales: Recent insights on their morphology, reproductive biology, chromosome numbers, biogeography, and divergence times. J. Syst. Evol. 54 (1): 1–16.

Maire, D.R. 1932. Plantes nouvelles du Tibesti (Missions Tilho et Dalloni). Bull. Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat. sér. 2,4:903-911.

Ramigeon, F.A., 1919. Contribution à l’étude anatomohistologique du genre Ephedra. Thèse Pharmacie, Alger, 104 pags.

Rydin C. & Bolinder K. 2015 Moonlight pollination in the gymnosperm Ephedra (Gnetales). Biology Letters 11(4): DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0993.

Rydin, C. & Korall, P. 2009. Evolutionary relationships in Ephedra (Gnetales), with implications for seed plant phylogeny. Int. J. Plant Sci. 170(8): 1031-1043.

Key to species

1 Bracts of female cones not fleshy, with wide scarious wings undulate on both sides Ephedra alata

1 Bracts of female cones fleshy, not winged at maturity 2

2 Shrub, with prostrate or climbing branches, flexuous, not upright 3

2 Shrubs upright 6

3 Cones grouped into a panicle. Climbing shrub, with green branchlets not scabrid Ephedra altissima

3 Cones not grouped into a panicle. Climbing plants, lianescent or decumbent, sarmentose, with flexible branchlets that do not disjoint to touch 4

4 Shrub never erect, decumbent or pendant. Galbuli with two flowers and recurved peduncles Ephedra foeminea

4 Climbing plants with scabrid branchlets 5

5 Branchlets thick (2.5-4 mm diameter), green. Terminal buds short, ovoid. Ripe cones red Ephedra aphylla

5 Branchlets very thin (0.5-1.5 mm diameter), glaucescent (ashy green or grey). Terminal buds elongated. Ripe cones white Ephedra foliata

6 Shrub upright or, when lianescent, with very fragile branchlets that easily disjoint when touched. Branchlets not scabrid Ephedra fragilis

6 Shrub erect, not climbing, dense. Branchlets flexible, not brittle 7

7 Plant 60 to 80 cm in height. Leaves completely brown and scarious. Galbulus solitary with two flowers, smaller than the peduncle at maturity Ephedra tilhoana

7 Plants of more than 1 m in height. Leaves membranous, sessile or shortly pedunculate cone 8

8 Branchlets of more than 1 mm thick, green ashen. Shrub up to 1 m Ephedra pachyclada

8 Branchlets very thin, up 0.8 mm, bushy green. Bush over 1 m Ephedra major

Updated by: G. Benítez, J. Molero Mesa & J. Charco.