Strausbaugh, Perry D. Formerly, Department of Botany, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Core, Earl L. Formerly, Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Last reviewed:January 2020
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A genus of low, leafless, green-stemmed shrubs belonging to the order Ephedrales, and the source of the drug ephedrine. Plant members of the Ephedra genus grow in dry, alkaline soils around the world. In the southwestern United States, these plants are called Mormon tea and jointfir; some typical species are E. viridis, E. torreyana, and E. funerea (see illustration). In China, Ephedra is known as ma-huang. The drug ephedrine is commonly extracted from certain Asiatic species, including E. sinica and E. equisetina. It is used medicinally in the treatment of colds, hay fever, and asthma. In addition, ephedrine is a sympathomimetic amine and can have stimulatory effects on bronchi, blood vessels, blood pressure, and the central nervous system. See also: Ephedrales; Pharmacology
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