genus of low, branchy desert shrubs, 1914, from Modern Latin (1737) from Greek ephedra, a name given by Pliny to the horsetail, literally "sitting upon," from fem. of ephedros "sitting or seated upon; sitting at or near," from epi "on" (see epi-) + hedra "seat, base, chair; face of a geometric solid," from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit." The reason for the name is not known.
word-forming element in chemistry, often interchangeable with -in (2), though modern use distinguishes them; early 19c., from French -ine, the suffix commonly used to form words for derived substances, hence its extended use in chemistry. It was applied unsystematically at first (as in aniline), but now has more restricted use.
The French suffix is from Latin -ina, fem. form of -inus, suffix used to form adjectives from nouns, and thus is identical with -ine (1).