Ma-huang (Ephedra sinica), packet of 5 seeds, Organic [not available to AUS/NZ]
Hardy to Zones 3 to 9
Perennial, primitive, dioecious, nearly leafless subshrub. Native to the steppes of north and northwestern China. Rare offering of the main official species. Does well in pots. Traditional use (TCM): One of the Chinese herbs that releases the exterior. Dried stem is considered a natural adrenergic stimulant to the central nervous system and a bronchodilator used for treating colds and asthma. The whole herb (as opposed to concentrated tablets), dried and used in small doses, poses no threat to the health. However, the very young, the very old, and the pregnant mother would best avoid use. Cultivation: Ma-huang prefers full sun and dry, sandy soils. Soak seeds for 2 days in willow tip tea or plain pure water in the fridge before planting. The seed germinates best in a warm medium. Strew the seed on surface of very sandy potting soil (50% sand) and cover 1 inch deep with more of the same potting soil. That means, plant the seed 1 inch deep. Planting deeply increases germ rate and gives the seedling a stronger foundation against flopping over, provides resistance to damping off. Tamp securely and keep evenly moist until germination, which in the greenhouse or under propagation lights takes 10 to 30 days. 2022 trials showed a 16 day induction period in a warm greenhouse without supplemental heat. Water when the surface becomes dry–usually once daily. If you are trying to do this outside in the garden it will take longer, as cold nights prolong germination times. Once they germinate, seedlings can easily damp off–this is a dryland plant–so reduce the watering–water only once every 3 days or so. Development is slow at first. Work the seedlings up in 4-inch pots until they reach at least 4 inches tall. If one of the stems becomes super leggy (6 inches or more), it is best to cut it back to about 3 inches, to encourage more stems to form. Once the plant is sufficiently robust, transplant to a gallon pot or plant outdoors. Always provide a deep, fast-draining mulch of sand or pumice around the plants. Do not use compost or fertilizer. We grow ma-huang in a sand mulch, about 4 inches thick, in the full sun, with moderate watering. Space plants 1 to 2 feet apart. They create, in 2 or 3 years, a stubby, woody trunk bristling with the jointed stems. The male plants make male flowers prior to the formation of female fruits on the female plants. Female fruits are fleshy scales adhered together at the end of the branch, colored orange-red, gooey and mucilaginous. Very sweet to the taste, they contain the paired seeds with their flattened sides lightly clasped together. Seed harvest is in the summer. Cut back plants in October to a rounded form about 8 inches tall.
5 seeds/pkt., certified organically grown