Ephedra americana andina
The Temperate Database is in the process of being updated, with new records being added and old ones being checked and brought up to date where necessary. This record has not yet been checked and updated.
Ephedra americana andina is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 1.80 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
S. America - Andes from Ecuador to S. Chile and Argentina.
Stony slopes and gravel terraces[
Requires a well-drained loamy soil and a sunny position[
]. Established plants are drought resistant and are also lime tolerant[
One report says that this species is frost-tender[
], but this is not our experience[
]. It succeeds outdoors at Cambridge Botanical Gardens and we have been growing it outdoors successfully since 1988[
Plants do not flower profusely or regularly in Britain[
]. Our plants have been producing reasonable crops since 1991[
A dioecious species - both male and female forms must be grown if fruit and seed are required.
Fruit - raw[
]. A sweet flavour, but fairly boring[
]. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter[
The stems are depurative and diuretic[
The stems of most members of this genus contain the alkaloid ephedrine and are valuable in the treatment of asthma and many other complaints of the respiratory system[
]. The whole plant can be used at much lower concentrations than the isolated constituents - unlike using the isolated ephedrine, using the whole plant rarely gives rise to side-effects[
]. Ephedra does not cure asthma but in many cases it is very effective in treating the symptoms and thus making life somewhat easier for the sufferer. The stems can be used fresh or dried and are usually made into a tea, though they can also be eaten raw[
]. The young stems are best if eating them raw, though older stems can be used if a tea is made[
]. The stems can be harvested at any time of the year and are dried for later use[
Plants can be used for ground cover, spaced about 60cm apart each way[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a greenhouse[
]. It can also be sown in spring in a greenhouse in a sandy compost[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out in the spring or early summer after the last expected frosts and give some protection in their first winter[
Division in spring or autumn[