Cal's Plant of the Week
Equisetum hymale
Common Horsetail

Equisetaceae

Equisetum hymale

Equisetum hymale, or common horsetail, is native to wetlands, streams and rivers throughout the United States. The rush-like dark green stems will reach up to 4 feet (1.5 m) in height. The stems are hollow, grooved and have small microphyll leaves at the stem joints. Stem walls are filled with silicon dioxide (essentially forming little grains of glass), which make the plants very abrasive. Early settlers and Native Americans used Equisetum to polish objects made of wood, wooden cooking utensils and for cleaning. They are very hardy and can be very invasive if used in landscape situations.

Blooming Time: Equisetum reproduces by spores that are dispersed from sporangia at the stem tips.

Culture: Equisetum hymale need full sun to partial shade with a moist to wet soil. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of equal parts of loam and sand. The containers are kept moist at all times and the plants are fertilized on a monthly basis. As stated earlier they are very invasive and plants in containers need to be divided on a yearly basis. They make an interesting plant in the landscape when used around water features.

Propagation: Equisetum hymale are easily propagated by division.

Equisetum hymale was featured as Plant of the Week October 31-November 6, 2003.

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Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.