Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

horse tail 1

Since it is bitter cold outside (for Georgia standard-24 degrees this afternoon), we thought that we would talk about a plant that still looks good through most of the winter. Horsetail is a deciduous perennial that produces fertile and infertile shoots.   Each fertile shoot is unbranched and between 4 to 8 inches tall.   These fertile shoots develop during mid spring, and soon wither away after the cones release their spores in the wind.  The infertile shoots are very attractive and can reach 3 to 4 feet tall.

Horsetail 4

The root system consists of long rhizomes and secondary roots with small tubers attached.   The rhizomes form hardy colonies and that is why Horsetail is often considered invasive.  Horsetail can easily be contained by planting it with some sort of barrier around it’s root system.    It likes full to partial sun and moist soils.   The tall Horsetail shoots are quite attractive in floral arrangements.
horse tail 2

The foliage is not often eaten by animals because it has a high silica content.   The foliage is toxic because it can cause thiamine deficiency, particularly in horse.

The Cherokee would make a root infusion for kidney problems.   A strong infusion was taken for constipation.



2 thoughts on “Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

  1. Hi Tony,
    I wanted to talk to you about a project that I have in mind for the 180th commemoration of the Trail of Tears. Feel free to contact me at my email. I read your interview in Georgia Magazine!
    Thank you! Drew B.

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