65. Ephedra gerardiana Wallich ex Stapf EPHEDRACEAE
Hindi: Somlata, सोमलता
A dwarf Himalayan shrub, which occurs at high altitudes of up to 5,200 metres. Although it looks rather like a horse-tail (Equisetum sp.) it is a gymnosperm and related to the conifers. It is an important medicinal plant and the juice of the fleshy red ‘berries’ of the female plant is the source of the drug ephedrine, which is used in the treatment of asthma. The specific name commemorates Patrick Gerard one of three brothers from Aberdeen who was an East India Company army officer (of the others one was a surgeon, the other a surveyor).