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tripsis

Three new Ephedra species decribed in India? Plus a taxonomic discussion of the genus.

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Until recently, I was under the impression that only two Ephedra species occurred in India. As it turns out, there are potentially 11 species, though this is debatable.

A paper published from 2010 (titled "Two New Species of Ephedra (Ephedraceae) from the Western Himalayan Region") described two new species of Ephedra found in India, E. kardangensis and E. khurikensis. I've attached the article below for those interested in reading it. Furthermore, it makes reference to a third recently described species. E. sumlingensis, though I'm unable to access the original publication, it being a chapter in a book (Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India, Vol. 50, Nos. 1- 4). When I first read this, I was both excited and surprised. The last time I was in India, I found two Ephedra species myself (E. gerardiana and E. regeliana) in an area not far from where these putative new species have been found. In fact, I even passed through one of the areas. So this new information got me thinking. When I next go back, I definitely plan of seeking out some of the other reported species.

Ephedra kardangensis P. Sharma & P. L. Uniyal, sp. nov.— TYPE: INDIA. Himachal Pradesh: Lahaul district, Kardang, 3,000 m alt., 22 Aug 2007, P. Sharma & P. L. Uniyal 0407 (holotype: DU; isotype: BSD, DD, DU).

Planta erecta, strobilus masculus stipitatus, late ovoideus, 3 × 2.5 mm, synangia 6–8, strobilus femineus stipitatus, ellipticus, ca 7 × 5 mm. Semina 2, ovata usque triangularia ad partem apicalem, obscure marroninola, 3 × 2 mm. Plants dioecious, bushy erect shrub, 1 m high. Bark brownish black, branchlets dark green, 0.5–2 mm in diameter with ridges and furrows, internodes 1–2 cm. Leaves scaly usually two per node, opposite and decussate, turning brown at maturity, triangular with acute tips, 1–1.5 mm long, mostly 1/2 connate, sheath membranous, later fissured. Male strobilus stalked, broadly ovoid, 3 × 2.5 mm with three pairs of flowers, bracts binate in three pairs, mucronulate, lower and middle pairs 1/4 connate, upper 1/2–3/4 connate, 1–3 × 1–2 mm, perianth almost equaling the subtending bract, 2– 2.5 mm, synangiophore with synangia 2.5–3 mm, synangia 6–8, sessile. Female strobili elliptic, 7 × 5 mm, stalked, three pairs of bracts, bracts mucronulate, connate, connation ranging from 1/4 in lower and middle bracts to 3/4 in upper bract, 3–6 × 2–4 mm. Seeds two, ovate to triangular at the apical region, dull maroonish, ca. 3 × 2 mm, two enveloped, micropylar tube straight, 2–4 mm long, exserted with round opening. Figure 1A - J.

Etymology— The new species is named after the place where it was first located, Kardang (District Lahaul) in Himachal Pradesh.

Phenology— This species has been found with strobili from July to August and producing seeds from August to September.

Distribution and Habitat—Ephedra kardangensis is known from the western Himalayas (Himachal Pradesh) in India where it grows on the gentle slope along with pines in Kardang (District Lahaul) above 3,000 m elevation in the northwest Himalaya.

Ephedra khurikensis P. Sharma & P. L. Uniyal, sp. nov.— TYPE: INDIA. Himachal Pradesh: Spiti district, Khurik, 2,800 m alt., 24 Aug 2007, P. Sharma & P. L. Uniyal 0416 , (holotype: DU; isotype: BSD, DD, DU). Planta erecta, strobilus masculus stipitatus, ellipticus, 4 × 2.5 mm, synangia 8, strobilus femineus stipitatus, ellipticus, 9 × 5 mm. Semina 2, elliptica, brunneola usque atra, 4 × 2 mm. Plants dioecious, medium erect shrub, 40–50 cm high. Bark brownish, branchlets green, 0.5–3 mm in diameter with ridges and furrows, internodes 2.5–3 cm. Leaves scaly, usually two per node, opposite and decussate, turning brown at maturity, triangular with acuminate tips, 3–3.5 mm long, mostly 3/4 connate, sheath membranous, later fissured with chocolaty base. Male strobilus stalked, elliptic, 4 × 2.5 mm, with four pairs of flowers, bracts binate in four pairs, mucronulate, lower and middle pairs 1/4 connate, upper 1/2–3/4 connate, 1–2 × 1–1.5 mm, perianth almost equaling the subtending bract, 1–1.5 mm, synangiophore with synangia 2.5–3 mm, synangia 8, usually stipitate. Female strobili elliptic, 9 × 5 mm stalked, three pairs of bracts, bracts mucronulate, connate, connation ranging from 1/4 in lower and middle bracts to 3/4 in upper bract, 2–6 × 3–5 mm. Seeds two, elliptic, brown - black, 4 × 2 mm, two enveloped, micropylar tube coiled, fringed with oblique opening, 2 mm long. Figure 2A – I.

Etymology— The new species is named after the place of occurrence where it was first located, Khurik (District Spiti) in Himachal Pradesh.

Phenology— This species has been found with strobili from July to August and producing seeds from August to September.

Distribution and Habitat—Ephedra khurikensis is found in the western Himalayas (Himachal Pradesh), India where it grows luxuriantly in open ground in dry gravel soil of Khurik (District Spiti).

Two New Species of Ephedra (Ephedraceae) from the Western Himalayan Region.pdf

Upon further reading, it became apparent that these newly described species may not be new species at all. The IUCN Red List recognises both E. kardangensis and E. khurikensis as separate species, but classifies E. sumlingensis as a synonym of E. intermedia. However, Kakiuchi et al. (2011), using DNA sequences of the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer region (nr ITS1), found E. intermedia to be polyphyletic, stating:

It is noteworthy that seven segregate species have been described by different authors, often from the same or adjoining areas for E. intermedia: E. glauca Regel (1880), E. heterosperma Nikitin (1957), E. microsperma Nikitin (1957), E. ferganensis Nikitin (1957), E. rituensis Yang & al. (2003), E. sumlingensis Sharma & Uniyal (2009), E. kardangensis Sharma & al. (2010), E. khurikensis Sharma & al. (2010). Except for E. glauca, none of these species are generally accepted. Further studies are required to disentangle the conflicting morphological and molecular diversity of the E. intermedia species complex.

Sharma et al. (2010), the authors of the newly described species, argue that they are morphologically distinct from E. intermedia:

In the present study data have been collected on populations of Ephedra in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. Two isolated populations of Ephedra in Kardang and Khurik were found to be morphologically distinct from E. intermedia Schrenk & Meyer and are described as new species. Both are members of section Pseudobaccatae Stapf. Ephedra kardangensis Sharma & Uniyal sp. nov. has a straight micropyle and links E. nebrodensis Tineo, E. gerardiana Wallichii ex Stapf, E. saxatilis Royle ex Florin, and E. regeliana Florin in tribe Leptocladae Stapf. Ephedra khurikensis Sharma & Uniyal sp. nov. has a twisted micropyle and links E. pachyclada Boiss, E. intermedia Shrenk & Meyer, and E. sumlingensis Sharma & Uniyal sp. nov. in tribe Pachycladae ( Figs. 1 , 2 ; Table 1 ). Parametric MANOVA and Principal Components Analysis (PCA) also separate these two new species and E. sumlingensis Sharma & Uniyal sp. nov. ( Hammer et al. 2001 ; Sharma & Uniyal 2008 , Fig. 3 ).

Obviously at this stage, it is impossible to tell who is correct and whether the newly described species from India deserve specific status of not. It does appear likely that as least some of the populations attributed to E. intermedia may in fact be separate species.

Edited by tripsis
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*sigh*

Just more plants to be added to the schedule list. Better get on it quick Federal Government, PRECIOUS LIVES ARE AT RISK!!

Edited by gunfighter

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Perhaps, but this is more out of interest of the taxonomy of the genus.Obviously it would be nice to be able to grow them, but for now, it's somewhat irrelevant.

I've got a great deal more to add, just need to read through what I've got first, etc.

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