2017 Volume 40 Issue 1 Pages 43-48
The Ephedra herb, which has been used in Kampo medicines, originates from terrestrial stems of Ephedra species. It is important to establish cultivation methods and cultivars to secure a stable supply of the Ephedra herb that would meet the quality standards for the ephedrine alkaloids content. In this study, we first grew Ephedra sinica plants derived from seeds in the field for 5 years. Then, for selective breeding of cultivars that could meet the quality standards for the ephedrine alkaloids content, we measured the content of total alkaloids (TAs), ephedrine (Eph), and pseudoephedrine (PEph) in individual plants derived from seedlings and grown for 4 years in the field. The range of the TA content in each individual plant was narrower than that among individual plants grown in the field. Therefore, individual plants were selected according to their TA content, Eph/PEph ratio, and stolon-formation capability. The selected individuals were propagated using stolons, and their TA content was studied for 2 years. In the second year, the TA content in terrestrial stems derived from stolons of the selected individuals was as high as that of their parents. Therefore, it was confirmed that the selected individuals that were propagated using stolons could produce TA reproducibly. This study suggested that selective breeding using stolon propagation is effective for stabilizing Ephedra herb TA content.