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Edible uses


Fruit - raw or cooked.


Material uses

There are no material uses listed for Ephedra sinica.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Ma Huang is a strongly stimulant acrid-tasting herb that is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs[1][2].

Most members of this genus contain various medicinally active alkaloids (but notably ephedrine) and they are widely used in preparations for the treatment of asthma and catarrh[3]. Ephedrine has a similar effect to adrenaline in the body[4]. It acts promptly to reduce swellings of the mucous membranes and has antispasmodic properties, thus making it valuable in the treatment of asthma[5]. 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[2]. The stems are a pungent, bitter, warm herb that dilates the bronchial vessels whilst stimulating the heart and central nervous system[3]. The stems are also antidote, diaphoretic, diuretic, pectoral, vasoconstrictor and vasodilator[6][4][3]. They are used internally in the treatment of asthma, hay fever and allergic complaints[3]. The plant also has antiviral effects, particularly against influenza[3]. Ephedra is often combined with a number of other herbs and used in treating a wide range of complaints238]. This herb should be used with great caution, preferably under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[3]. It should not be prescribed to patients who are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or suffering from high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism or glaucoma[3]. Ephedrine is seen as a performance-boosting herb and, as such, is a forbidden substance in many sporting events such as athletics[K]. The stems can be harvested at any time of the year and are dried for later use[3].

The root is antihydrotic, it lowers blood pressure and dilates the peripheral blood vessels[4]. It is used in the treatment of night sweating and spontaneous sweating[4]. The root is believed to have the opposite action to the stem, but is only prescribed in cases of profuse sweating[1].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a greenhouse[7]. It can also be sown in spring in a greenhouse in a sandy compost[K]. 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[K].

Division in spring or autumn[3].


Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Ephedra sinica. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in many parts of this country. A small plant of this species is being grown in the Centenary Border at Hilliers Arboretum in Hampshire. It has survived at least one winter of temperatures down to below -10°c, but was not looking very vigorous when seen in September 1997[K]. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus.

Requires a well-drained loamy soil and a sunny position[8]. Established plants are drought resistant and are also lime tolerant[7].

Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown in fruit and seed are required.


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Ephedra sinica. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Ephedra sinica.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Ephedra sinica
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Drought
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
x meters
Flower Colour
Flower Type

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"image:Ephedra_sinica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Ephedra_sinica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Ephedra_sinica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Ephedra_sinica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Ephedra_sinica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Ephedra_sinica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Ephedra_sinica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Ephedra_sinica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Ephedra_sinica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Ephedra_sinica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:Ephedra_sinica.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.


  1. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
  2. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
  3. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  4. ? Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
  5. ? 5.05.1 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  6. ? 6.06.1 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
  7. ? 7.07.1 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  8. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
  9. ? [Flora of China] (1994-00-00)

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Facts about "Ephedra sinica"RDF feed
Article is incompleteYes +
Article requires citationsNo +
Article requires cleanupYes +
Belongs to familyEphedraceae +
Belongs to genusEphedra +
Has binomial nameEphedra sinica +
Has common nameMa Huang +
Has drought toleranceTolerant +
Has edible partFruit +
Has edible useUnknown use +
Has environmental toleranceDrought +
Has fertility typeSelf sterile +
Has flowers of typeDioecious +
Has imageEphedra sinica.jpg +
Has lifecycle typePerennial +
Has medicinal partUnknown part +
Has medicinal useAntidote +, Cardiac +, Diaphoretic +, Diuretic +, Pectoral +, Vasoconstrictor + and Vasodilator +
Has primary imageEphedra_sinica.jpg +
Has search nameephedra sinica + and ma huang +
Has shade toleranceNo shade +
Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
Has soil texture preferenceSandy + and Loamy +
Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
Has sun preferenceFull sun +
Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
Has taxonomy nameEphedra sinica +
Has water requirementsmoderate +
Is deciduous or evergreenEvergreen +
Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
PFAF material use notes migratedYes +
PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
PFAF toxicity notes migratedYes +
Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Ephedra sinica +, Ephedra sinica +, Ephedra sinica +, Ephedra sinica +, Ephedra sinica +, Ephedra sinica +, Ephedra sinica + and Ephedra sinica +