Ephedra distachya is a shrub in the family Ephedraceae, about 25 cm to 50 cm high, that grows in southern and central Europe and parts of western and central Asia from Portugal to Kazakhstan. Its local names include somlatha.
It is used to relieve acute muscular and rheumatic pains (when it is called teamsters’ tea), as a stimulant, and in the cardio tonics in Ayurveda. It is sometimes identified with the legendary drug soma, as described in the Avesta and the Rig Veda, the respective ancient sacred texts of the Zoroastrian and Hindu faiths.
Photo by Judit Hartdégen and Arnold Erdélyi