Ephedra strobilacea (Gintzburger et al., 2003)

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Hippophae rhamnoides
Gintzburger et al., Rangelands in Uzbekistan, 2003
Ephedra strobilacea (Gintzburger et al., 2003)
Tithymalus turczaninowii
Ephedra strobilacea
Ephedra strobilacea
Ephedra strobilacea in Karakum desert (Turkmenistan)
Male flower of Ephedra strobilacea in Karakum (Turkmenistan)
Female flower of Ephedra strobilacea in Karakum (Turkmenistan)

Ephedra strobilacea Bge

Local name:

  • Russian: Хвойник шишконосный (эфедра крылатая), борджок, кзылча - hvojnik šiškonosnyj (èfedra krylataja), bordžok, kzylča
  • Turkmen: Karadzha-borjok
  • Uzbek: Bordzhok, Kizilcha

Description and morphology: Evergreen shrub (height 1–2 m), dioecious, erect or hanging, with deeply penetrating (to depth about 10– 15 m) and spreading root system. Life span 50–100 years. Stem: whip-like, slender, green, fleshy and articulate, bark woody, grey. Leaves: opposite or in whorls of 3–4 (about 2 mm), scale-like, fused at base. Flowers: in small cones: male at tips of branches subtended by ciliate bracts; perianth 2-lipped, staminal column with 3–4 sessile or short stipitate anthers; female cones 1–3 seeded, solitary or groups of 2–3, subtended by 2–4 pairs of bracts. Ovule with scarious or fleshy bracts becoming woody when seed matures.

Reproduction: Dioecious. Sexual and vegetative (rhizomes). Flowering: May. Fruit maturation: June–July. Fruit: dry, winged (6–7 mm), papery, fleshy yellow-reddish with scale bracteoles. Seed: surrounded by fleshy coat, with woody tegument; endosperm and embryo developed. Dormancy A2–B1 type. Dark-sensitive. Germination (20 °C): 20–40%. Scarification or long-term stratification of seed recommended.

Pastoral importance: Well used; good energyproviding forage for all livestock including young animals (especially lambs). In summer, when all the ephemerals have dried out, it is well consumed by goats, sheep and camels. In autumn-winter, it is the main fodder resource, particularly after snowfall. Palatability is lowered when Haloxylon and some species of Salsola dominate the plant community. Green forage production at about 0.08–0.5 t/ha.

Fodder value: Best at flowering stage. At flowering contains (% DM): crude protein 14–16; fat 1.6–3.7; ash 8.4–9.6; nitrogen-free extract 46–47; carotin 50–81; vitamin C 785–8656 mg/kg; significant amount of amino acids. Micro-elements (g/kg): Ca 19–25; K 10–16; Na 0.1–1.4; P 0.1-0.8. Forage value about 86 FU and 8.9 kg digestible protein/100 kg DM.

Economic interest: Forage. Medicinal (alkaloids of ephedrine groups used for regulation of nervous system, increasing blood pressure, treatment for rheumatism and gastric problems, as well as bronchial asthma and cardiovascular disorders). Sand-fixing plant. However, its use in range improvement is not always successful due to severe insect damage to seed.

Habitat: Psammo-xerophyte. Occurs on fixed and mobile sand as single plants mixed with Haloxylon, Salsola richteri and some ephemeroid and annual plants. Will stand and grow even when partially buried on shifting dunes.

Distribution: Central Asia, eastern Mediterranean region, North-east Africa and Syria to northern Arabia.