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Central-Asian Jointfir
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Central-Asian Jointfir
E Native Photo: Saroj Kasaju
Common name: Central-Asian Jointfir • Chinese: Zhong Ma Huang
Botanical name: Ephedra intermedia    Family: Ephedraceae (Joint-Pine family)
Synonyms: Ephedra glauca, Ephedra tibetica, Ephedra persica, Ephedra microsperma

Central-Asian Jointfir is an evergreen shrub up to 1 m tall, densely branched, erect to spreading or sometimes with a creeping stem producing single, erect, green primary branches. Branchlets are yellowish or bluish green, often powdery, internodes usually 2-6 cm x 1.5-3.5 mm, straight or slightly bent. Leaves are arrange in whorls of 3 or opposite, fused for at least 2/3 their length, thus forming a cone-like structure. Pollen cones are up to 8, whorled, usually clustered at nodes, often stalkless; bracts in 3 or 4 pairs or whorls; anthers 5-8, stalkless or shortly stipitate; staminate column slightly protruding. Seed cones ellipsoid, ovoid, or oblong-ovoid; bracts in 2-5 pairs or whorls, outer ones fused at base, apical pair or whorl fused for about 1/2 their length, margins membranous, spherical, red, and fleshy at maturity; integument tube long, 3-5 mm, usually spirally twisted. Berry is ovoid, red. Central-Asian Jointfir is native to Afghanistan, Altay, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tadzhikistan, Tibet, Transcaucasus, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, West Himalaya, West Siberia. Flowering: May-June.
Medicinal uses: Central-Asian Jointfir has several medicinal benefits, most notably helping with asthma. It contains several different medicinally active alkaloids that are widely used to treat that illness. This plant has similar effect to adrenaline on the body, which makes valuable in treating asthma as it helps reduce the swelling of lungs during attacks.

Identification credit: Saroj Kasaju Photographed in Leh, Ladakh.

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