Ephedra alata, White shrubby horsetail,
Hebrew: שרביטן מכנף, Arabic: العلندى المجنحة

Scientific name:  Ephedra alata Decne.
Synonym name:   Ephedra alata Schimp. ex Carrière
Common name:  White shrubby horsetail
Hebrew name:  שרביטן מכנף
Arabic name:  العلندى المجنحة
Family:  Ephedraceae, שרביטניים

Ephedra alata, שרביטן מכנף,  العلندى المجنحة

Life form:  Chamaephyte, small terrestrial shrub, up to 1 m tall; The roots are very fibrous and help the plant firmly anchor in sandy soil.
Spinescence:  absent
Stems:  Jointed yellowish-green, stems, much branched, erect, not climbing shrub; branches rigid, scabrous-glabrous
Leaves:  Very short leaves, united towards base, forming short sheath
Inflorescence:  The male spikes are borne on shoots which arise in the leafaxils or branches of the currant year or of a previous season; occasionally they arise from dormant buds on old stems. The group of flowers is terminal and the whole inflorescence unit is not a spike but a "gulbulus".
Flowers:  Dioecious; The male, staminate cones terminal axillary, densely crowded, ovate, 3-8 mm long, with 3-6 long-stipitate or sessile microsporangia on a slightly exerted column. The female, ovulate cones pedunculate at nodes, oblong-ovate, up to 10 mm long, with 2 fertile flowers and 4-5 pairs of imbricated, yellowish bracts, with membranous and wavy, wing-like margin.
Fruits / pods:  Seeds ovoid, acuminate
Flowering Period:  March, April, May, June
Habitat:  Sand
Distribution:  Deserts
Chorotype:  Saharo-Arabian
Summer shedding:  Perennating

Ephedra alata, white shrubby horsetail, שרביטן מכנף,  العلندى المجنحة

Derivation of the botanical name:
Ephedra, the Greek name used by Pliny for the common mare's tail (Hippuris; hippo "horse" and oura "tail") which it somewhat resembles. certain species are the source of ephedrine which, as ma-huang, the Chinese have used in medicine for centuries.
alata, Latin, ala wing, armpit, wing of an army; having wings, winged.
The Hebrew name: שרביטן, sharvitan, from שרביט, sharvit (scepter), because of the structure of the branches of the species.
  • The standard author abbreviation Decne. is used to indicate Decaisne, Joseph (1807 - 1882) , a French botanist and agronomist.
  • The standard author abbreviation Schimp. is used to indicate Schimper, Wilhelm Philippe(1808 – 1880), a French botanist.
  • The standard author abbreviation Carrière is used to indicate Carrière, Élie Abel (1818 - 1896) , a French botanist.
The stems of most members of this genus contain the alkaloid ephedrine and are valuable in the treatment of asthma and many other complaints of the respiratory system. Ephedra alata is used in traditional medicine to treat allergies, bronchial asthma, chills, colds, coughs, edema, fever, flu, headaches.
Medicines: the stem is used for humans as a deobstruent, circular system disorders, to tread kidney disorders, as a stimulant, to treat bronchi disorders and asthma and used for the eyes. The plant (part not specified) is used for digestive system disorders.

Animal food: Aerial parts. The stem is eaten by bovines, camelidae and caprines.

Materials: The stem is used for the fibres to make cord, string or twine and the plant is used for tannins and dyestuffs such as tanning goat skin for water bags. This is done by grinding the leaves, roots, peel or bark, boiling in water and then the skin is added for 1-3 days. The process is called girbah.

The plant is also used to control erosion in sandy areas. It will also tolerate saline soil.

Ephedra alata,white shrubby horsetail, שרביטן מכנף,  العلندى المجنحة

Ephedra alata,white shrubby horsetail, שרביטן מכנף,  العلندى المجنحة