NEW WORLD EPHEDRA PROJECT
The New World Ephedra Project is headed by Steffi Ickert-Bond, Associate Professor of Botany and Curator of the University of Alaska Museum Herbarium (ALA), University of Alaska Fairbanks and Adjunct Faculty, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Az. A monograph is in preparation for publication in Systematic Botany Monographs. It will include detailed species descriptions, taxonomic key to species, distribution maps based on review of over 5000 georeferenced herbarium specimens and 21-25 pen and ink illustrations.
The genus Ephedra comprises over over 50 species of dioecious plants, meaning that the reproductive structures are found on male plants with (pollen) cones and female plants with seed cones. New world Ephedras lack significant amounts of ephedrine alkaloids, a stimulant used in the treatment of allergies and asthma; instead, the major source of natural ephedrine occurs more commonly in Old World Ephedras. Indians of the Southwest use Ephedra as folk medicines, and stems of various species are used in the preparation of teas, e.g. Mexican Tea, desert tea, teamster’s tea, Brigham or Morman tea.