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Three new Ephedra species decribed in India? Plus a taxonomic discussion of the genus.
tripsis posted a topic in EthnobotanyUntil 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. 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: Sharma et al. (2010), the authors of the newly described species, argue that they are morphologically distinct from E. intermedia: 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.