Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Coastal BC Plants: Horsetail


When I was in college, I took several botany classes.  One of the plants I loved to draw in my lab journal was Horsetail. It looked so primitive.

Horsetail is considered a "living fossil." The genus is over 300 million years old and the plants were prevalent in Paleozoic forests. Some varieties grew to tree heights up to 30 metres tall.

Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) grows in moist spots along streams, sandy places, disturbed or open areas, and shady forests. It's considered a weed when it is located in agricultural and landscaped areas, and it can be poisonous if grazing animals eat it in large quantities. Their deep, interconnected root structure makes them difficult to eradicate.  But in nature, they provide a bright green, wispy ground cover.

The perennial underground rhizome sends up both fertile and non-fertile stems. Horsetails incorporate silica in their cell structure, more than most vascular plants.

Around a central cavity, the stem is segmented with whorls of fleshy, needle-like leaves at each junction. This makes it look much like the structure of a horse's tail.

Do you have a favourite plant from the forest or fields? -- Margy


  1. Horsetail fern is one of my favorites - I'd even welcome some in my yard - along with Fireweed, bindweed (white morning glory) and wild sweet peas. I like things that take over and make it all look like a wild garden.

    I had no idea about the varieties that grew so tall - that would be interesting to see.

  2. These are nice, but I like the moss growing in the older forests around here.

  3. JoAnn - Natural plants in the garden always do well. For some reason the critters leave them more alone than nursery plants.

    Stephani - I love the mossy forest floors as well. It is so cool there on a hot day.



We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy