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sagiXsagi

Ephedra sp. cultivation notes and discussion

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Sharing this cool pic. It seems several species do necter drops.

gerardi plate drops.jpg

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I was repotting a batch of E. foemina cf. fragilis "Greece" seedlings and I was surprised to see two of them have 3 cotyledons.

Coincidentally or not, those tricotyledon ones seem to have been the fastest growers out of the ~30 seedlings so far.

 

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well these buggers are not easy to get ahold and master.  

in hot mediteranean weather you have to place pots in places of part shade om summer 

maybe its better to pick a climber var and place in a shadier place 

 

well, its one thing to get them started 

and another to keep them happy in pots....  

 

once established they need as big pot as you can give them... better even in the ground... ground is their thing, maybe because they are gymnosperms, relatives to conifers. 

 

these here are not big enough pots , and certainly not suitable for the the greek summer, hence its neesed to be shaded in the hottest past of the day.. but some - several are recent repottings.. 

 

I think they should be eventually be potted in barrels or in the ground, or at least 25-30 liters pots

 

in the pic you are seeing non native species, some or most transplanted, some pretty happy in the shadier place.. others suffered and almost dead .. 

 

TBC (to be continued)

 

PS: new sowing - spanish fragilis behave somewhat like foeminea.. we will see 

 

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Edited by sagiXsagi
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Some Ephedra fragilis (or so they were labelled) popping up :)

Regular potting mix on the heat mat. 

Hope I can keep these ones alive.

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pic of one of my ephedra major.

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I have not yet read the whole thread, as I was absent, but just quickly here is some of my input.

sagi's post seems to apply to me that, given ephedra does not do well, in said climat.

I add that for example, that ephedra gerardiana, and ephedra nevadensis, don't survive my climat, but others thrive.

in short, THERE IS A RIGHT EPHEDRA, FOR ANY CLIMAT, apart from arctic, i'd say.

if you live in cold parts of Europa, for example, grow ephedra Helvetica and ephedra minima.

if it's dry and no tropical rains, try the desert ephedra, and so on, get my drift?

 

I think they are easy to grow, and require no care, just how I like it. they hate to be pampered, that's what kills them...

another thing they hate is, low drainage. for example ephedra major planted out in a non free draining position, grew faster and with more vigor, than the ones in free draining positions. but after 5 years being happy, the monsoonal rains killed them, the others survived.

 

Edited by withdrawl clinic
i am stupid
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Wow I havent posted here for some time! Last month or so I was locked out due to some account email problem. 

 

I did something stupid that I regret a lot, I planted several of my ephedras, several species (gerardiana, sinica, chilensis) and some more foeminea* in the ground, 900m elevation in the start of summer (stupid season to do)  and then I never returner to water them. Even if we had a rainy summer, father told me they were dead last time he went there .. I still havent been there, actually, and I still hope to find some of them alive. But I dont think so. 

LESSON LEARNED: plant in the ground or repot after the sumemr season, when temperatures are falling and plant are looking les stressed from warmth and sun. 

 

Having said that I will give you some updates - new insights, suggestions, after admitting it was a cactus year for me, so I didnt take care so much of them.

 

1. Ephedras dont patricularly like to grow in medium sized pots. As soon they become somewhat established, base a bit woody-like,  they love a bigger pot, as big as you can. Some chilensis of mine seems to be thriving in a big pot with polaskia crest cactus. 

 

2. Ephedra fragilis is a problematic species in many ways... Many times the seeds sold are major=nebrodensis or maybe the reverse as well. Ephedra fragilis might not be a good species at all. Also fragilis seems to be similar also to E. altissima. In any case, I think seed of major / nebrodensis seems to be quite characteristic, so it can give info about the potential ID. All in all, in the occasion of major / nebrodensis  the picture of the seed and dimentions can help to figure out if you got the right species. 

 

3. Ephedras are notoriously difficult to ID. Even if it was relatively easy to hybridise, it would be amazingly difficult to understand if the hybrid is successful. This having been said, I have seen ephedra foeminea (from wild rooted cutting) flower and even seed in a small deep container,  have seen my minima also do this and producing a single fruit and also my gerardianas seem to try to fruit also but dont (I think gerardiana flower is much smaller, havent seen it) ... In any case, with males and females, reluctancy to flower and fruit and notoriously difficult to identify, hybridisation is definately intersting but difficult project. 

 

4. I was sent some spanish fragilis with location info, {edit} the seed looks like what I think is major/nebrodensis - like seed, not like foeminea or sinica. Maybe fragilis indeed is a good species. The seedlings/plantlets seem rather more erect than what I have grown from greek seed (foeminea) , and a bit different but that could be my imagination. Yesterday I repotted 3 of them that were in a single pot to 3 separate ones, one of them repotted in a pretty huge pot with used cactus soil. We will see. 

 

5. Today I sow 97 or something major=nebrodensis seed. I am looking foward to see if the seed is viable and maybe get location info from the seller. From the same seller I bought also 5 E.altissima seedlings, that indeed look the real deal. Altissima is a north african species mostly. 

 

6. Those of you with summers that get hot, whatever species you are growing, place them all in shade or relative shade durring summer and they will be fine as long as you tend them to see when they need watering. 

 

 

Edited by sagiXsagi
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Withdrawl clinic>>> I have some questions for you

 

1. So you seem to be growing them in the ground, which you say is the best, but at what age and do you plant them there from seed? And at what time of the growing season? The major in your picture seems massive, how old is it? 

2. Why do you say nevadensis and gerardiana dont do well in your climate, what exact elements in your climate make it in suitable for them? What's your summers (maximum temps and for how long)  and whats you winters like, how much rain and lowest temps?  Have you tried sinica and if yeah what were the results? 

3. How do you know your plant is really a major/nebrodensis? does it do lots of suckers and side shoots? I was under the impression that major is one of the slowest growers and that it doesnt do suckers, or not that much anyway. I am saying this because fragilis is reported to be confused with major, and fragilis is supposed to be among the fastest growers. Also distachya seems to be able to grow massive with lots of suckers. 

4.  The statement "there is an ephedra for each climate" surely deserves some exploration. The genus is definately widespread all over the world except australia. And even though they are more or less desert plants, many species seem to enjoy the wet season and more or less behave like normal plants once established.. Sure, growing them in pots might not be the best for them, but maybe with pots one could succeed in many species, and not just a couple. In my opinion plants in pots face potential problems at the peak of the heat in the summer , when they need shade and at the peak of cold and rainy saeson, where they might need to get protected from being wet for too long. That is for my season and climate.  Also I think that the faster a a species grows, the easiest it seems to get it past the first stages. Once a plant rootbounds the previous pot, it seems easier to uppot and finally establish in a large container as the plant is getting stronger and bigger. It also seems that species that tend to do more suckers are also easier and faster to grow. 

5. what about if someone cannot plant in the ground. What would you advice for keeping them in pots? Have you found some species easier for pots compared to others? 

 

in the pictures , first one is nevadensis, the second is viridis , both seedgrowns, I got one of each  

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Edited by sagiXsagi
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Here are my two gerardiana var sikkimensis, freshly repotted, I got them as small plantlets and despite they seem to stress during our hot summer and generally too hot weather, it has been one of the most reliable growers so far, doing plent of suckers as well. I hope they now completely take off, like some pictures of it I have seen

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Man they look good, how often are you watering/ feeding during warmer months?

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I dont fert at all, but I use regular potting soil with perlite, after I exclude  peat pieces, perhaps adding some extra perlite than usual. for up-potting. So I dont use some really special and free draining substrate but I dont really recommend. Plants seem to really take advantage of richer soil after being somewhat established, that is after 1.5 year from seed but deep pots seem to help a lot even from eary on. 

 

And for sowing I have mostly used and recucled soil which is also quite rich. All in all they can take advantage of richer soil and bigger pots. 

 

It also seems to depend on the species and type. Sinica doens't seem to like it so rich and I have had suckers die in rich substrate, but gerardiana and distachya (as well as fragilis and foeminea )  seem to like it more. 

 

The gerardiana ssp sikkimensis seems to be an avid sucker producer, I am not sure all gerardianas are like this. 

 

So I do this a lot, as I am the hurrying kind of grower, to rush things and not really mess with specialised substrates, but rememeber I am in a zone~9  pretty warm climate with very dry and hot summer and mild winters. Next yeazr I should try some more clay oriented materials, especially for the upper layers of the substrate. 

 

From the most sought after species, I think gerardiana (sikkimensis) and distachya are perhaps the easiest and fastest to grow. 

 

As for watering, I never have a schedule but they definately want to keep an eye of them in the dry season. You need to water them as often as they drink it. You cant aford to leave unwatered for more than a couple days before they plant might start drying out.  Yellowing segments at the end of branches can be an indication, but its also something they do regardless.  I found the best bet is to try and control their temperature by placing them in as coolest shade as possible to minimize the heat stress.

 

Picture below is Ephedra chilensis, one of my favourites and propably one of the prettiest phenotypes. Its in a big pot with a Polaskia crest, and this pot actually had poorer soil, more clay and sand type of substrate.. I have began to tie them up, perhaps it helps to fix the "untidy" look of these plants.

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Edited by sagiXsagi
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first here is the distachya. Was sent as sucker with roots from Thunderhorsey from UK, ( hey dude , hi!)  after taking some time to establish (they do that), it has started to grow pretty fast and I expect it to grow even faster now in that bigger pot. 

 

second is either distachya helvetica or a minima.. the branches crawl on the ground, pretty charachteristic phenotype and growth scheme..  I received both a minima and distachya helvetica, but I suspect they were both minimas as they were both they same.. lost one of them, so I now have one ... anyways I tend to think this is minima even though this one has the helvetica tag. A pretty slow grower. 

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Edited by sagiXsagi
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guess 2nd is minima!

( I used to grow, so confident)

Edited by withdrawl clinic
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I am so happy!!! FLASH UPDATE!! 

 

Remember a couple posts above how I said I stupidly planted some of seed grown ephedras early summer and never went to water them during summer and I thought they where dead, a lost cause? Well the person that told me they were dead simply missed them!! Well I thought he hadnt search well and maybe some of the greek ones were still alive, but I had lost hope for the foreigners... After I found the first one, the gerardiana, I proceeded  to search among the weeds some times, to find 5 of 6 foemineas and 4 of 5 of foreign species are alive of all planted! Not bad all. Spot is at an elevation of ~900 meters and very shinny and as you realise its pretty colder than my sunny roof almost at sea level.

 

They were quite hidden by weeds, I even stepped on the sinica! Then proceeded to we-weed and clear the spot. The sinica, even though being a good and my biggest seedling of 3 at the time, after the ordeal, seems the most stressed and was the only one not actively growing (same thing with the sincas back home, they are not active, at least not above the ground) , and both the 2 chilensis seem like they had a portion dried during some stress period in summer, the gerardiana which was the only one not seed grown, seemed to have put out the most growth and was less stressed. As I found the 2 chilensis, the gerardiana (sikkemensis) and the sinica, I wondered If I had put only 4. It might be so, but if they were 5 I must have planted a 3rd chilensis which was gone. Not really sure. 

 

Nexti time in 2-3 months I should de-weed again and place some more stones and pebbles around them. Or I might go earlier to check again and place some rocks if I got for a late x-mas- new years eve mushroom hunt

 

Pictures: first here are the 2 chilensis (sure hope its a male + female!), then the geradiana, then the sinica and then a group shot of the spot with the all foreigners together

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Edited by sagiXsagi
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And here are the 5 foemineas (one of the two strains existing locally). I admit the weed-clearing and placement of stones when planting those was not as thorough as when planting the foreigners which all went to the same spot, but it seems it was enough.. These will need tieing up when I return to visit again, and they are definately described as neing climbers and crawlers, so they need some support (thus the branches in the pics).  Some had fallen over, growing among the grass and I tried to fix them to a sunnier spot as well as I could. One of them, you will know which, seems to be dwarf-like. I would guess that it is some other species, but I am quite sure I only planted foemineas in this spot and also I have had another plantlet from this sowing like this, smaller and dwarf.  We wil see. 

 

Overall this was a fantastic christmass day finding the plants for which I have spent quite some time alive and mostly well, It was cold and wet, with only occasional sunshine, but totally worth it, totally fulfilling. 

 

Grow on and have nice holidays, hey?

 

PS: First nebrodensis = major seedling to sprout today, to make it even more special, 5 days like my previous record of "fastest ephedra baby to sprout"  record, lets hope the rates are as high as the early sprouting indicates. If the seed is good, I will have several if not tens of sproutings in the next 3-7 days. 

 

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Edited by sagiXsagi

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Unfortunately some of the earlier pictures in this thread seem to have been lost. This thread is missing habitat pictures. So I thought I put some 

 

Ephedra foeminea "cf fragilis" type 

huge old plants near and beside old animal paths.   

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another location, an archeological site this is by the sea, previous was at 500-600 elevation further in the land.

 

again, propably the same or similar strain 

foeminea 'cf fragilis' 

 

this is really a site with an intense ephedra presence around the ruins, perfect for photography of the species and genus in general. Not that foeminea is that rare to see, especially in archeological ruins and the little unspoilt "woodland" and macacue of greece. But its not that common. It's typical for foemineas to exist in woody areas by the sea in greece,  and distachya also appears to have a similar presence in northern greece. 

 

These are the genetically older species, the mediteranean ones, that gave birth to all more recent ones the asian ones and afterwards the american ones.. There are various species around the midditeranean area which have this climbing, crawler behaviour as described for fragilis and foeminea , I am looking for any kind of those of species seed, from around the mediterenean, preferably not foeminea or "fragilis", even though I would like to get "fragilis" seed from moroco.  Many countried like jordan, isreal, libya have native interestin native species I would like to try from seed. All I am asking is to any of you than might know anyone than lives in locations where native epehdras, perhaps let them know that some fresh seeds would add greatly in my search to grow as much epehdra species as I can and will always come back after some years to tell the story . so any seed from known locations is welcome, especially tested fresh viable seed , PM me , could trade or pay. Not midoterenean only seed, north and south american species are also wanted , I am very excited to grow ephedras from other continents, all of them if I could. Of course I am not that ambitious but I know I am willing to try and grow whatever species of ephedra around the world. 

 

They used to have some 65 species in ephedra, but eventually they were cut down maybe to 45, but there you go you got 3 new species from asia so its a taxonomic nightmare or dream , depends on what's your attitude. 

I supposedly have some 11-12 species , and they seem to bee right so far, but once you get to that number, its hard to get more species.. chilensis seems very interesting, some seed were sold a couple years ago but I dont know If they are still sold. Cant find the link.  Very interesting species, grow slow and erect, once established a bit the can throw some nice growth bursts and pump the mian stems before 1.5 year old. But I am not the one to test if f.e. chilensis can stand a -10 or lower winter, if we are talking outside.  Anyways, you get the drift. 

 

The crawler / climber species like foeminea, like f.e. alta, morocan and spanish fragilis, and other species I dont remeber now, which exist only around mediteranean area, are generally not known to contain alkaloids like some of the more known species, so this is an entirely taxonomic thing for me and from love for the genus as a whole. I think the most handsome one is chilensis which also doesnt seem to have said alkaloids. I hope I eventually get a couple to flowering and some girth to prove my point for its beauty and different phenotype, compared to other ones... But I would like to grow asian ephedra climber species to compare to out native ones around foeminea. 

 

some of these pics, these espcially a couple in the ground that look like small plants, could easily pass for asian species, no?  but this is because the place is regularly pruned. 

 

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Edited by sagiXsagi

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Continuing with adding habitat photos which seem to be missing from the early pages of the the thread. 

 

Ephedra foeminea (s.s  sensu strictu, in my view, there are couple differences, more narrow stems, different positioning of the seed in fruit, different seed, cf fragilis being more "fragile" at joints) 

 

here are two pictures that show the woody base trunks of a pretty old plant. This is spot is also magnificent.. for bigger plants, its always always impossible to get to the base to find the woody trunks that "start" the whole you see up the trees!  But these plants have been growing as bushes propably due to being to the border of a long cultivated plot. olives... who knows if these have been cut down from machines and then they resprouted various shoots from all over a giant underground root which seems to bbe the thing in a nearby spot. 

 

so pictures 3 + 4 are a bushy one and one that has conquered that olive! This is trully a typical behaviour and really iconic pic for the species in question.  Most areas of foemineas I have seen, except the archeological site which is different for a number of reasons, are huge, big plants on trees, or old shrubs. When you see that kind of habitats, with really old plants you are amazed, wow that what they look when they are pretty old, but you dont see any new ones. So you also get the feeling that you are finding a relic colony of foemineas when you find it..  its pretty special and fun to see in the wild, the genus being dioecious , as you try to spot the male one, which is the one that doesnt bare fruits... This is pretty special as a sight in relatively unharmed habitats as well as those old specimens up on those trees..     

 

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Edited by sagiXsagi
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A small update with some retrospective thoughts  

 

1. do not use containers with many holes unless you cover them up well with some type of cloth - you dont want the suckers to draw energy of the plant there, you want all energy greeing upwards to fill the pot. I mention this cause it happened to me, especially with species that are known to throw suckers. 

 

2. I have sowed some of the nebrodensis seed and some other I still had... now they are out on the roof. Comparing both the seeds and the seedlings all  nebrordensis (=major), weber fragilis, weber major, "fragilis" with spanish location, all 4 strains have identical seed and the seedlings are also identical.

They seem to be nebrodensis=major which is known to be pretty widespread and varied. This builds up on the suspicion of that lots of "fragilis" seed sold might  be actually be nebrodensis=major and also lead up to the question "does fragilis exist?"   Except perhaps, nebrodensis=major and fragilis are so hard to tell apart. The would mean that fragilis would be more connected to nebrodensis=major than to foeminea.. Its all very taxonomically confusing around some species. The point is, when you are buying some seed, it might be a good idea to take a good photo of it and post it here, before you sow it. cause it helps a lot in IDing. 

 

sinica, intermedia, equisetina,  minima seed seem to be similar 

distachya seeds seems to be like that but more reddish

gerardiana seem to be smaller than that 

foeminea varieties seed is generall larger than all the asian species , more reddish and more ellongated

north american species seeds are more like the asian ones but lots bigger, more elongated and more reddish and resemble a bit some forms of foeminea seed that seems to be fatter rounder and less elongated.

chiloensis is the most different seed, black and thiny 

nebrodensis=major also seems to be different in that they are more round  than all and also its not a shiny seed 

 

any ways, that's the seed plot so far. 

 

3. if you want to take a sucker, do it but dont be greedy. it seems to really pay to take less larger rooted cuttings than more smaller rooted ones, both in terms of survival, but also in terms of growth rate. And if you receive nice little plantlets with suckers and all, dont be a fool like me and be tempted to take suckers. Plant the motherfucker in a larger container - be generous! Take care to de-weed and all..  when the the plant flowrishes and in the most appropriate time, you will ba able to get all the suckers you want, especially if its a species  that does this as a habit  like some gerardiana or distachya. 

 

4. Take notice of the season of your plants -  and take note of whether and when your plants are active.. not all plants have the same seasons and I imagine not all of them react the same to the climate  of each candidate grower  so... several species seem to enjoy the mostly mild wiinter winter here .. some more than others.

 

some species like sinica and equisetina, which are slower , even when they are inactive - its when some segments turn yellow and start to wither - you can tell if they are active and want to be left alone or maybe checked, by the bumps they form in the junctions. So this way you can tell  if  the plant is handling the wetness of its soil well, even if its not growing new segments - you look for bumbs , pre-tells of the sprout of a new ambitious branch.. very characteristic and pretty helpful to see the status of the plant.  

 

5. sinica - this seems to be the trickiest of them, at least for me, and maybe this is the species that earned the genus the name of the hard& difficult to grow... sinica seems to yellow many segments and die back more than any, I have two strains, I will see how my own are gowing which havent throuwn suckers yet... stilll they yellow their segments a lot,  I dont know if I shoud treat this species diferently... soilwise especially -  and the sinica was also the one that performed worse in the high atlitude semiwild thing,  plus I accidentally stepped on it. ( I talk about these above in the thread) .

 

and in the photo , my biggest  sinica now a seedgrown, here show after I did a pruning of the yellow segments I talk above.. 

 

and other photo is newcomers distachya, so far distachya stand up nexto to local foeminea to speed endurance.. indeed distachya might be one of the easiest species to grow.. I saw the opportunity and I got five plants, as I had previously seen the rooted cutting mate thunderhorsey sent me eventually  grow to a pretty biggy plant, already brown and preparing to go woody at the base ,  and I am like, OK, distachya rules. the easiest of them all.. still havent done them from seed, I would love to if I fould some seed.. especially soime seed with a known location would be a great challenge... besides me visiting the distachyas in north greece... 

 

GROW ON! 

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Edited by sagiXsagi

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Some cool pictures I took today plus some distachya pictures flowering from mid November 

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Dang these phedrerz be luuuurvin mah gawden :]

 

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my two nebrodensis seedlings a year older =]20190225_175724.jpg20190225_175750.jpg

 

no such luck scoring live sinica tho but what the hey 

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Posted (edited)

^^^  hey what's up dude, they all look amazing!!  Does anyone flower?  

 

I am having 3 species flower at this time, but I dont yet know if they are male or femal. 

4 distachyas, 1 minima and 1 seedgrown sinica!!  I was especially amazed by the sinica flowering as this is my own sowing. My impression of sinica is fluctiating from it being pretty straight forward and only a bit extra slow as a seedling and it being harder than most species to grow, not so hardy in cold and rains and not so suitable for my climate.  Also I thought it was too early for distachya to flower. We will see, maybe I see fruits too. 

 

Well some have asked about hybridisation, well, sinica and minima seem to be close genetically. So why not? 

 

here are the sinica and minima buds

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Edited by sagiXsagi

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above are 4 pictures of my two recently transplanted gerardiana ssp sik in nice large containers along with freshly sown Mandragora seedlings. They are currently in a growing and sprouting boost. very happy to see this extreme growing reaction to the big pots. 

 

below are a couple (2-3) foemineas started from rooted cuttings, this barrel gets only a few dircet sun. Also in a super-happy growing mode. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Wow!  Lots of activity , a few species seem to be flowering simultaneusly, namely minima, distachya, sinica and gerardiana

 

You have the minima packed with female cones, and yesterday I found out it has hermied, that is It produced two male cones, something I had read some species might do. 

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It also seems all of my distachyas are male 5 out of 6 

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The sinica has also amazed me this year with the rush of new growth, simply amazing, also with some cones, not yet sure about sex. I did some slight pruning a while ago, mostly to fic its shape, maybe it helped . See the previous picture above from 2 february, less than 2 months ago to see the impressive evolution

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Lastly the gerardiana sikkemensis has started producing cones, I think that my gerardianas are female. 

 

So in theory I could have some hybridisation. But I think only the minima is hopeful of producing some seed. 

Edited by sagiXsagi
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On 12/03/2019 at 10:47 AM, sagiXsagi said:

^^^  hey what's up dude, they all look amazing!!  Does anyone flower?  

not a dude lol

and

no Ephedral florification this end of the web either love .... only me flowering at the moment :3 

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Posted (edited)

ephedra chilensis bud/cone!   making it the 3rd species I reach to cone-forming age from seed, after local foeminea and sinica.  I will provide the times with the next retrospect update , as I feel another retrospect update report is building  at this time 

 

Determination, persistance, passion and community friends with tips and gifts got me where I am  - not a "proper soil" .  

 

Epehedras are doable and can be done in a range of climates it seems 

 

Edited by sagiXsagi

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