Field Horsetail

Equisetum arvense

Also called the ‘Common Horsetail’, the first to be seen of this plant is the pinkish-brown fertile stems, resembling small asparagus sprouts, followed by the green sterile stems with jointed segments and whorls of side shoots forming spreading patches where they grow. Plant height 75cm.

Spore-bearing stems appear in March from tuber-bearing rhizomes, and spores ripen March to June. The sterile stems appear when the fertile stems die back, and are present throughout the summer months into late autumn when the first frosts arrive. Found commonly in damp fields, waste ground, roadsides and in gardens where it may become a troublesome weed. The rhizomes may grow down up to 2m into the ground where they are difficult to remove, and where they may spread into neighbouring properties. Britain’s commonest horsetail, native and widespread throughout.

The Field Horsetail is from a very ancient group of plants which has survived from the Carboniferous age, more than 230 million years ago. This plant, like all horsetails, contains high levels of silica which makes it toxic to livestock.

Photographs taken April 2009 and May 2013, local field near river, Staffordshire, and June 2013, nature reserve, Staffordshire.

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2 thoughts on “Field Horsetail

  1. Good shots, Pete. Ours “bloomed” early this spring so I missed getting pics. Trying to shoot the sterile stems is a challenge for me … they are so think and tight that it comes out as a green forest. :-0

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