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sagiXsagi

Ephedra sp. cultivation notes and discussion

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He are my E. fragilis seedlings I have sown about 3 weeks ago. Thanks again Sagi!

Only two came up at first, but after letting the tray dry up and rewatering it the others sprouted.

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I'm starting to think having several wet/dry periods can really help germinating stubborn Ephedra seeds, as that's also how my E. sinica first germinated. I neglected the pot and left it to dry, reused the soil for other seeds and only then did one of the sinica seeds decide to sprout. Here it is now:

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Meangreen its useful to know that officially we dont have fragilis in greece, only foeminea, distachya and nebrodensis. But this plant really resembles what is described as fragilis. Amateur botanists dont seem to think there's a any difference, but I am quite sure they were not looking/interested enough... There also could be that fragilis is an invalid species overall. For what is worth, it would be more appropriate to tag this "foeminea CF fragilis greece" to remember that we are not supposed to have it in greece. I could also send you the regular "foeminea" seed to compare.. 

 

Of course seeing how "fragilis" is native in many parts in France and Spain, I would love to gain access to real  (spanish) fragilis seed and try to compare them all. Fragilis is also supposed to be native to morocco. 

 

*****

 

IMO the tray would better not dry up completely, especially in the first crucial 15 -18 days, but it depends on the freshness of seed. by 15-20 days after sowing you will know if they are fresh (good / decent germ rate) or bad (little or no germ rate). But as long as the seed is fresh, the soil should not dry up too much. More dry between waterings is required after the sprouting to prevent damping off. There's always chance seeds might be sprouting as late as 60days after sowing, but its basic to figure out the freshness of your seeds. 

 

The same I start finding with sinica , it's much easier than thought, you just need fresh seed. Sure its slower, but its not that hard... In one sowing I did, I had 3 sprout at 8 days and none other (seed was old) ... I still have those 3 seedlings and they look pretty fine now...

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UPDATE: 

*ebay sinica rooted cuttings x2 seem to have taken fine, new sprouts are seen in the base 

*ebay sinica motherplant replanted is super happy and still showing off new sprouts

*seed-grown sinicas are also sprouting from their stem base (I had pruned a bit all them sinicas btw) 

*gerardianas cant seem to form fruit, even though I seem to be having both sexes

*TH equisetina is sprouting from stem, base and there also seems an off-base sprout also

*the single viridis is still a small seedling, but it's also growing  

*ALL species seem active and growing currently

 

PIC1: some of the ebay sinica mother plant new sprouts

PIC2,3: typical shape of new growth in my gerardianas

PIC4: seed-grown nevadensis

PIC5: Almost all my ephedras, excluding the natives foemineas+ cf fragilis 

 

 

 

 

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Retrospective notes #2 : drunk but wise 

 

updated general infos after 1.5 year 

 

again, I thank all people that helped in any way in my search, which is essentially to grow some ephedra species and compile infos on how it might be done - mean the growing, the whole growing thing and I am also intersted in the taxonomy and the species descriptions , obrservation on the growing habits and differences between the species and all these nerd things.  

 

Still looking for fresh seed or hints for someone who has fresh seed or e-shops who have fresh seed of , well, nearly any Ephedra species.. especially any rarer ephedra, any varieties or synonyms of e.chilensis and really any american ephedra, northern or southern. 

 

I am still giving away fresh cf fragilis foeminea and regular foeminea seed to anyone interested to plant them and report his results here. I currently have lots of fresh cf fragilis foeminea. 

 

you might find that I am less into conclusions and more into random notes in this 1.5 year report, but hey, I hope I can arrange them notes better, in this single post and try to give it a structure. I will certainly come back, maybe at the 2 year point, when I re-process the pile of papers + material I have gathered, which I havent looked at or checked for a long time now. Also if you havent read all of this thread, go to 5th page, and also read the 1 year retrospect notes, which is mainly focusing on starting from seed  , its in the begining of the 5th page here, its a first attempt at an extract of what this thread is about. But that post was more into conclusions. this one not so much. 

 

1.EPHEDRA ROCK GARDEN ARCHITECTURE & SUBSTRATE NOTES. 

 

As far as my climate in concerned, and I am at zone ~9 which is pretty mild winters and very warm and dry summers, I am begining to doubt whether extra draining is really needed when its grown in pots. Judging from both my own experience and the pictures of Thundehorsey, which I saw again, and taking for granted that 
most or many of them species can handle cold pretty well, especially when they are of some age and into maturity, and maybe even younger at a pubescen stage, so I am re-thinking the possibility of planting them in the ground, and aesthetically it really suits real well as a rock garden companion and it should be a good companion for columnar cacti in such gardens..  maybe the ground is the best possibility for lots of people who could just have the mature plantlet sent within europe, as UK and german shops sell them, as essntially this: rock garden plants, slow but reliable growers. 

 

In my climate, even with early planting, even at 900 meters, which I plan to plant multiple cf fragilis seed grownsand maybe 1xgerardiana , I fear they would suffer  - well the gerardiana,  I dont think think the natives would have any problem with the help I will offer when planting. This should be done soon or, next september-october. 

 

I did not like the use of a sandy cactus mix I used previously for transplanting the more mature plants I got from UK and germany - so I am leaning to using a more rich substrate for them - after all you want to pamper them and as much as slow plants teach patience, you really want to offer them more than they would get in the habitat .. but it always depends on where you're at.  

 

2. PEBBLES 

 

Ephedra's root system especially in pots seem weak by more modern plants standards, until they become established. Like waterboy had suggested to me, all of them seem to like having pebbles around them, it seems, I delayed doing this, and it really seems to aid the grow. 

 

I am not a big fan of using pebbles in cacti in pots, for a variety of reasons, but I think they are a pretty good idea for use for ephedra pot cultivation, and could be essential in the long term establishment of plant planted in a semi-wild enviroment or an ouside garden. 

 

Size of pebbles should we chosen according to the size, habit, stage, species of the plamt. Pebbles should rather be placed in the pots after some sign of growth of a sucker/rooted cutting or a newly received plant, and not at once after repotting.  

 

3.  CLONING

 

One of the things I think I have found out, which will not come as surprise, is that, it seems, as with any plant really, its really important ,  doing the right cut of the right sucker or else you will have a lousy perspective of a constantly stressed small-smallish sucker. 

 

One ideal cloning I recently did was what I did in my ebay sinica, which was itself received as a rooted sucker initially, its actually interesting to see this ebay sinica be so willing to do underground sprouts and suckers after some time, when successfully established, and one would woulder if its really sinica , if this is really sinica behaviour , as it might resemble more  f.e. a distachya, according to descriptions or personal impression, species known to do underground shoots extensively. But - this ebay motherplant-  it really looks like the 3 seed growns I have, which are now , kind of pubescens, like the ebay cutting when established in my hand, only younger and more vital as such! So I have to really accept this is a mature sinica unless other wise proved. The success is that both cuttings, which were pruned in their over ground green parts , in the usual sense of taking cuttings, had a substantial , wide for ephedra standards underground stem with a good portion of little rootlets... and I let some 5-7 eyes at the green parts . They are both are happy sprouting from undeground. 

 

And I am thinking, maybe sinica aint so hard after all. Or maybe these things should be attempted only when the plants are active and growing. Yes. and preferably at the begining of the season.  

 

I am seeing that size matters, in regards with ephedra cloning -  the underground part seems to play a huge role, in a sense similar to a general underground succulent cutting like some bulbous plant ... and, like with cacti and succulents, there is a size below which its not really smart to cut to propagate, even if you want to clone on like me, you shouldnt, you should wait until the suckers mature and become a plantlet of their own, capable to dealwith the stress when cut off from the mother plant. 

 

so yeah, dont be like me, be patient, take your cuttings big and more importantly, if possible in the begining of the growing season , when plants are active. keep always in mind that this is a very slow growing genus overall, espesially untill established in a garden... 

 

it is very important, it seems, not unlike others plants actually, that the cuttings, clonings, suckers replanted and such, should betted done in the growing period 

one older cloning attempt I did when I received the 3x gerardianas, was really unseccessful... I tried to take  a single bigger cut but it came up to be 4 smaller ones. They didnt go well. one of the 4 is still alive.. always stressed and lossing bits.... smaller cuttings maybe should be potted in much smaller pots until showing establishment signs but they should be really slow, like in the seedling stage. 

I still have 2 minima little suckers, done when I transplanted my newly received minima.. despite they are alive they were stressed due to weather, these are really small suckers - plantlets . 

 

So, do you cuttings big, or else bring very small suckers to a really smaller pot. 

 

4. STRESS - CYCLE 

 

this ancient plant is very easily stressed and prone to stress. 

 

well yes, but not so in in the early seedling transplant... this is not regarded a good idea, but after stranplanting several weeks old, strong stemed seedlings , it can be very carefully done and this can boost their growth.  again, any up-potting would better be done in the growing season 

 

and one should also be able to find the yearly cycle for such plants, especially if they are in pots and not in the ground where they perhaps belong.... 

 

so cycle-wise they seem to like our mild zone-9 winter and be annoyed by the hot summer season. they also seem to be annoyed by any cold peaks on the otherwise mild winter. 

 

Bigger pots are propable better given generously in certain species. especially those with tendency to do sucker sprouts. 

 

people with colder cycles should be happy about the news 

 

but as a slow plant, the grower should look into the cycles of the plant. and try to understand them and plant itself, what it likes to have to be happy 


5. SPEED COMPARISON 

 

this refers of course to the experience of growing from seed 

 

foeminea/foemina cf fragilis > nevadensis > sinica > chilensis 

 

cf fragilis even flowers at 1.5 years, of course the meditereanean forms are totally different from most of the their cousins around the world. 

 

both nevadensis and chilensis seem to have tendency to harden up the stem , and make it fat . early woodification. and of course foeminea / cf fragilis base seems to harden like this of course....  sinica was put in a faster than chilensis place though, because of the suckers which chilensis shouldnt do.  they are so different species anyways, to be compared as for their speed. 

 

it's maybe unfair to chilensis which seem to be pretty straight forward after it establishes, with multiple growing points. seemingly the prettiest. 

 

and maybe I also overestimated nevadensis growth, but  i think is second to foeminea as for the size of growth and also trunk .... maybe a plant that should be soon in a bigger pot... 

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gerardiana sik 

photos from mine and TH plants 

 

red arrows showing the characterstic "BOW" grow scheme, when sprouts seem to first like to go horizontally and follow the ground, and then after a while rise... 

 

I wonder with if is only a gerardiana characteristic or what. or even a feat of this clone only, why not? 

 

 

00 gerard TH sab kampylohabbit.jpg

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I have a Griffonia simplicifolia growing in a pot at home, and these popped up last summer. Until last week I thought they were new shoots from the vine and was waiting for them to develop leaves. After 15 months waiting I had a closer look last week and they look like bloody Ephedra!

 

Not sure which one. I recycle my propagation mix and throw a lot of old prop mix into different pots to top them up. They could be *really* old E. gerardiana from 20 years ago, E. major or E. sinica from seed that didn't germinate over 5 years ago.

 

Whoever they are they put a huge smile on my face. Never give up :)

 

Thanks for keeping us updated, this is great! Sorry I didn't get to mention this thread at T's and my EGA presentation on research. It was in my notes to do but I got nervous and left heaps of major points out :/

 

Hope I'm not interrupting here, lemme know and I'll move it

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On 1/11/2018 at 7:45 AM, sagiXsagi said:

Retrospective notes #2 : drunk but wise 

 

you might find that I am less into conclusions and more into random notes in this 1.5 year report, but hey, I hope I can arrange them notes better, in this single post and try to give it a structure.

 

 

Mate, it's a hard task and a big ask. But it will be really worth doing as a single document. It'll prolly also help formalise a lot of the notes into new ideas. And when it's finished it will be gorgeous :)

 

I write lab notes like this, all good :)

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that would be awesome to accidentally have ephedra seedlings grow, but this doesnt seem like one. in any species, there should be nodes in between stalk parts . all eyes (potential growing points) are in those distinct nodes. Max distances between the nodes is one of many identification traits for some species, and these nodes are perhaps the genus trademark. 

 

sorry to disappoint you. now you need to try the real thing again :P

Edited by sagiXsagi
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Hahahaha would be hilarious if it were Griffonia suckers after all and it meant that I suck at growing both Griffonia and Ephedra

 

You could be right. I'll take more pics as they grow

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Hahahaha would be hilarious if it were Griffonia suckers after all and it meant that I suck at growing both Griffonia and Ephedra

 

LOL

 

DWR> give it more sun next season

Edited by sagiXsagi
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On 12/15/2017 at 0:51 PM, sagiXsagi said:

Meangreen its useful to know that officially we dont have fragilis in greece, only foeminea, distachya and nebrodensis. But this plant really resembles what is described as fragilis. Amateur botanists dont seem to think there's a any difference, but I am quite sure they were not looking/interested enough... There also could be that fragilis is an invalid species overall. For what is worth, it would be more appropriate to tag this "foeminea CF fragilis greece" to remember that we are not supposed to have it in greece. I could also send you the regular "foeminea" seed to compare.. 

 

Thanks a lot for the information Sagi, I will relabel them this way. They are finally starting to noticeably grow again, my biggest one, the sinica has really exploded with new growth. I'll post some pics tomorrow.

 

I repotted a couple of the E. fragilis cf. Greece today. I wanted to sprout more and try my luck again with the E. foemina seeds you kindly sent me back then, but to my dismay I realized the baggy of seeds of both fragilis & foemina started to rot... I had not removed the remaining seeds from the berries like a dumbass :( I salvaged what I could, hope I'll still get some sprouts.

 

 

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My 6 E. fragilis cf. Greece seedlings:

IMG_20180310_162857-1091x1314.thumb.jpg.8870730b652868b06fa09d66748ffaf2.jpgIMG_20180310_162933-1091x1253.thumb.jpg.671b1dd74b996ffa80260b53e7b11f0d.jpgIMG_20180310_162917-1091x1454.thumb.jpg.9bfc2c3c8cfe9681bdb19c0a416f0cdc.jpg

 

And my lone sinica:

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It's about 8 months old, here it was on July 16th of last year:

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Found the full list of plants kept at my local botanical gardens, they have all the following species:

 

  • E. alata
  • E. aphylla
  • E. breana
  • E. chilensis
  • E. dystachia (2 forms)
  • E. equisetina
  • E. frustillata
  • E. gerardiana (2 forms)
  • E. intermedia
  • E. likiangensis
  • E. major
  • E. procera
  • Ephedra sp.
  • E. triandra

Guess I'm gonna go on a pic taking spree soon and try to obtain some cuttings.

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^^^^^ Dude, I am very interested in some of them, especially alata and aphylla - whichever of them is crawler-climber in habit . why dont you ask to get  some seeds if they do set some?  Cuttings of course  would be awesome too. 

 

 

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If they do get seeds and collect them I'll ask if I can get a few for sure and send some to you! Same if I manage to get cuttings I'll make sure to get the species to you.

 

Honestly it's pretty easy to just snatch cuttings from most plants or ask one of the garden keepers for them.

Got a Tabernaemontana corymbosa cutting and a nice piece of Hylocereus undatus from my last visit:

 

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SPRING TIME UPDATE!!!

 

So its time for an update , as the weather slowly warms - we had a pretty wet winter - the ephedras become more and more active. Some small snail damage is not of concern.

 

I planted 6 pots of seed-grown cf fragilis and my biggest 1 year old sinica in a high altitude house we got. This should have been made a bit earlier, but its all good. Very wet winter this year.. Initially I intended to plant gerardiana, but I changed my mind as sinica seems to be doing a bit better (?) in my climate and also I didnt have the right gerardi plant/cutting now. I am showing the cf fragilis I planted down in the pics, some pots had 2 or 3 plant inside and they are pretty energetic and active,  throwing strong climer shoots . fast species! I kept one of them because it seems to be a miniature curiocity or something. 

 

With the exeption of chiloensis, which is not supposed to throw sprouts , it seems that many or most species throw underground shoots. I dont know yet if the american species viridis and nevadensis do it. I guess we will see..

 

nevadensis definately seems to have some resemblance with chilonsis in that it tends to become shrubby, but its branches seem to happily go horizontally, instead of the erect chiloensis. 

 

I am also showing the progress in that old barrel if you remember the picture from page one. 

 

 

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Thanks, man that would be awesome.. remember that it having a good root is more important than taking lots of green stuff. Don't take rootless cutlings! And plant ASAP with as much root as you can. 

 

And now some of what I call "plates" . pictures that are self-explanatory 

 

 

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Thanks for the heads-up, I thought you could root stem cuttings. Seeds might be the best hope then. What time of the year do they flower for you?

 

Some of the fragilis cf. greece seeds that got hit with mold still germinated.

Also sprouted some E. nebrodensis:

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I had much better success and quicker germination this time around, what I did was soak the seeds in water for about 48h, changing the water a few times as it got colored.

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as an australian, i find this thread inspiring and depressing.

For one, these species are very much frowned upon here and even illegal. Reading and seeing pics, discussion on cultivation of different ones and various locality finds is a wonderful thang

Thanks @sagiXsagi for opening up a great thread and pushing it forward so other members where it's legal have been able to chime in.

The tea is the best thing for upper chest infections and as a general tonic and natural stimulant (like guarana in a sense)  but alas large pharma rather we choke down their pills than chew on some plants stem for a bit

Edited by etherealdrifter
had to put my clothes back on
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MeanGreen> 

I think the mold gets the remains of the fruit not the seed.. I had some similar fears when I was given seed with dry fruit, but it germed fine. 

 

I also think each species has its own flowering time: gerardiana sik seem to be budding now but they also did mid summer last year. the minimas are also budding ... I think these plants havent yet established, I might seem to have find its "way" but its still a slow grower. 

I definately know the cycle of my local plants. They flower and fruit from end august till early spring!!! thats a huge flowering circle from large colonies of plants... So maybe they can be quite versatile in that aspect. distachya is reported to flower may - july .

 

about the sprouting time and rate, are you using a heat mat? I found that it helped with all kinds of germinations from caapi to capsicum chinense (super hot chilli) to ephedra to cacti to mandragora....

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Thanks a lot for the info Sagi, how low do the temperatures get in winter where you are? Pretty awesome that they flower & fruit for such an extended period of time, should give me a good chance of collecting seeds from the botanical garden.

 

I did use a heatmat but I almost always do when I sow seeds, I really think the water soak helped with germination speed. At least with the older dry seeds I bought, yours are fresh enough that it doesn't seem to matter.

 

How big do the roots get? Do you think planting ephedra in pots of established trichos as a companion plant is a bad idea?

I wanna try that with lophs too, they are often neighbours in habitat and the ephedra could provide the right amount of shade, what do you think?

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Sorry for not clarifying, the huge flowering and fruiting circle referred to E. foeminea  and E. cf fragilis foeminea. Possibly also E.alata and E. aphylla (from your list) with which they are closely related genetically. 

 

RE> collecting seeds in the bot garden.. It would be a cool idea to check out the number of plants they have for each species and how closely different species which are related genetically are.. OF course you know that for fruit and seed to be produced we need one male and one female plant, even though, some species tend to rarely make plants with both types of flowers on. 

 

Whatever the case, different species of Ephedra is possible to hybridise and a botanical garden would be the place where this might be the most possible place to happen. Not saying the seed will be hybrid, just mentioning the possibility. 

 

RE> companion plants.. I dont think either of your examples are good. In the wild , bolivia I think, tricho bridgesi co-occurs with Ephedra chiloensis. But they are in the ground not in a pot. Both trichos and ephedra eventually need lots of space.. Trichos eventually make a very dense root that constantly - over the years I mean, needs repotting.. Lophos on the other hand are pretty short, the shapes of lophos as compared to ephedras are really different. I do have two chiloensis in a pot with Polaskia crest mother plant. I have mandrakes growing in pots along with the pachycereus marginatus crest which does a tap root. 

 

But I dont think all kinds of combinations would be ideal. But hey, you should give it a try, Ι Like the idea of the loph better, but have in mind that foemineas f.e. get big quite soon, that is if you are succesfful, you will soon need to separate them.. but chiloensis might be a much better species to choose for companion plant. it also doesnt seem to throw underground shoots... 

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