Equisetum arvense

Taisha is again the author. She writes:

Today’s photo is of Equisetum arvense, also known as the field horsetail. This picture was taken by Hans Mohr (aka muscovite@Flickr) on May 19, 2013. Thank you Hans for the vibrant photo (submitted via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool)!

Equisetum arvense is a perennial species that is found across North America, Eurasia, Asia, and Greenland. Often, it grows along roadsides or riverbanks, or in fields and pastures. Though native, the field horsetail is considered a weedy species in British Columbia as it is poisonous to young horses and sheep when ingested.

Equisetum is derived from the Latin equus meaning “horse”, and seta, “bristle”, a reference to the resemblance of some species to the tails of horses. Field horsetail can propagate vegetatively from an underground rhizomatous stem. Fertile and vegetative aerial (aboveground) stems are hollow, except at the nodes. The shorter, brown fertile stems mature in early spring, shown in today’s photograph. They are unbranched and terminate in a spore-bearing “cone“. After spore dispersal, the fertile stems will wither and sterile stems grow. These vegetative counterparts with whorls of side shoots at the nodes are green and photosynthetic. The nodal leaves on the vegetative stems are dark brown, toothed, and form a papery sheath around the stalk.

Equisetum arvense

6 responses to “Equisetum arvense”

  1. Anne

    They are also incredibly persistent! Just down the street from me is a business that paved over a weedy patch of horsetail. Within a few weeks it had burst through the blacktop and was growing like nothing happened. They then pulled them and filled the holes with concrete. I expect the concrete will move as well. The power of plants over man’s attempts to control them often amuses me;)

  2. Richard Koepsel

    Horsetail grass is found especially where the soil has a
    high silica content as does the plant.

  3. Steve Edler

    Reference silica, here in England this plant was used used to scour pots & pans. How this group has fallen since its glory days in the Carboniferous.

  4. elizabeth a airhart

    it would seem that horsetail grass can be grown as
    plant in a container and used in landsapes etc
    if you put the name in the search engine
    so many images come up from around the globe
    thank you Daniel and company

  5. Jane Unger

    This does now make a good container plant and is extremely difficult to transplant since it depends on the underground runners and each individual plant really has no roots of its own. It is not something you would ever want to add to your landscape. As pretty and ferny as it is all summer, it also spreads, and spreads, and spreads and will come up in the crowns of plants. It is difficult, if not impossible to get rid of because spraying is not possible as it is so intertwined with the other plants and pulling and digging are not very effective. That said, I have learned to live with it since it is pretty and I really have no choice since it cannot be gotten rid of without destroying the rest of my garden.

  6. Barry

    There is a house in town where the entire front yard has been overtaken by Equisetum. They likely planted it as an ornamental, but it has spread to cover the whole yard, coming up through shrubs and basically ranging as far as it could get.
    Aside from that I’ve only ever seen it at one local stream where it didn’t seem to be a pest, though it did form an extensive stand.

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