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Equisetum arvense L.

Brief Summary

    Equisetum arvense: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia

    Equisetum arvense, the field horsetail or common horsetail, is an herbaceous perennial plant in the Equisetopsida (the horsetails), native throughout the arctic and temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. It has separate sterile non-reproductive and fertile spore-bearing stems growing from a perennial underground rhizomatous stem system. The fertile stems are produced in early spring and are non-photosynthetic, while the green sterile stems start to grow after the fertile stems have wilted and persist through the summer until the first autumn frosts. It is sometimes confused with mare's tail, Hippuris vulgaris.

Comprehensive Description

    Equisetum arvense
    provided by wikipedia

    Equisetum arvense, the field horsetail or common horsetail, is an herbaceous perennial plant in the Equisetopsida (the horsetails), native throughout the arctic and temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. It has separate sterile non-reproductive and fertile spore-bearing stems growing from a perennial underground rhizomatous stem system. The fertile stems are produced in early spring and are non-photosynthetic, while the green sterile stems start to grow after the fertile stems have wilted and persist through the summer until the first autumn frosts.[2][3] It is sometimes confused with mare's tail, Hippuris vulgaris.[4]


    The specific epithet arvense is from the Latin "arvum", meaning "ploughed", referencing the growth of the plant in arable soil or disturbed areas. The common name "common horsetail" references the appearance of the plant that when bunched together appears similar to a horse's tail.[5]


    Equisetum arvense creeps extensively with its slender and felted rhizomes that freely fork and bear tubers. The erect or prostrate sterile stems are 10–90 cm (3.9–35.4 in) tall and 3–5 mm (0.12–0.20 in) diameter, with jointed segments around 2–5 cm (0.79–1.97 in) long with whorls of side shoots at the segment joints; the side shoots have a diameter of about 1 mm (0.039 in). Some stems can have as many as 20 segments. The solid and simple branches are ascending or spreading, with sheaths that bear attenuate teeth. The off-white fertile stems are of a succulent texture, 10–25 cm (3.9–9.8 in) tall and 3–5 mm (0.12–0.20 in) diameter, with 4–8 whorls of brown scale leaves and an apical brown spore cone. The cone is 10–40 mm (0.39–1.57 in) long and 4–9 mm (0.16–0.35 in) broad.[2] The fertile stems are typically precocious and appear in early spring.[6] It is little changed from its ancestors of the Carboniferous period.

    The plant is difficult to control due to its extensive rhizomes and deeply burrowing tubers. Fire, mowing, or slashing is ineffective at removing the plant as new stems quickly grow from the rhizomes. Some herbicides remove aerial growth but regrowth quickly occurs albeit with a reduction in frond density.[5]

    E. arvense is a nonflowering plant, multiplying through spores. It absorbs silicon from the soil, which is rare among herbs. It has a very high diploid number of 216 (108 pairs of chromosomes).[2]

    Habitat and distribution

    Equisetum arvense grows in a wide range of conditions, in temperatures less than 5 °C (41 °F) to greater than 20 °C (68 °F) and in areas that receive annual rainfall as low as 100 mm (3.9 in) and as great as 2,000 mm (79 in). It commonly occurs in damp and open woodlands, pastures, arable lands, roadsides, disturbed areas, and near the edge of streams. It prefers neutral or slightly basic clay loams that are sandy or silty, especially where the water table is high, though it can occur occasionally on slightly acid soils.[5]

    The plant is widespread in the northern hemisphere, growing as far as 83° North in North America and 71° North in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia and as far south as Texas, India, and Iran. It is less widespread in the southern hemisphere, but it occurs in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Madagascar, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand.[5]

    Beneficial uses

    Drawing of a fertile stem of E. arvense, 10 cm as drawn. At the top is the strobilus, which consists of the axis (inside) and 15–20 horizontal circles of about 20 sporangiophores. Lower on the stem are two sheaths of merged microphylls. The stem has many strong lengthwise ridges.

    The plant contains several substances that can be used medicinally. It is rich in the minerals silicon (10%), potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus, phytosterols, dietary fiber, vitamins A, E and C, tannins, alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, glycosides and caffeic acid phenolic ester. The buds are eaten as a vegetable in Japan and Korea in spring. All other Equisetum species are toxic.

    Fertile shoots, in late April.

    In polluted conditions[citation needed], it may synthesize nicotine.[7] Externally it was traditionally used for chilblains and wounds.[8] It was also once used to polish pewter and wood (gaining the name pewterwort) and to strengthen fingernails. It is also an abrasive. It was used by hurdy-gurdy players to dress the wheels of their instruments by removing resin build up.[9]

    Equisetum is used in biodynamic farming (preparation BD 508) in particular to reduce the effects of excessive water around plants (such as fungal growth). The high silica content of the plant reduces the impact of moisture.[10]

    E. arvense has been used in traditional Austrian herbal medicine internally as tea, or externally as baths or compresses, for treatment of disorders of the skin, locomotor system, kidneys and urinary tract, rheumatism and gout.

    Harmful effects

    Sterile stems

    Equisetum arvense is toxic to stock, particularly horses.[11]

    It was introduced into New Zealand in the 1920s and was first identified as an invasive species there by Ella Orr Campbell in 1949.[12] It is listed on the National Pest Plant Accord, prohibiting its sale, spread and cultivation.[13]


    1. ^ "Name - Equisetum arvense L." Tropicos. Missouri Botanical Garden. 2018. Retrieved 18 August 2018..mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:"""""'"'"}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
    2. ^ a b c Hyde, H. A., Wade, A. E., & Harrison, S. G. (1978). Welsh Ferns. National Museum of Wales ISBN 0-7200-0210-9.
    3. ^ Flora of North America: Equisetum arvense
    4. ^ Dao-Lan, Xu; Jian-Guo, Cao; Quan-Xi, Wang; Xi-Ling, Dai (November 2015). "Cloning and Characterization of DEAD-box RNA Helicases Gene from the Fern Equisetum arvense". Plant Diversity And Resources. 36 (6): 715–722. doi:10.7677/ynzwyj201414036.
    5. ^ a b c d W. T. Parsons, William Thomas Parsons, E. G. Cuthbertson (2001). "Noxious Weeds of Australia" (illustrated, revised ed.). Csiro Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 9780643065147. Missing or empty |url= (help)CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
    6. ^ Merrit Lyndon Fernald (1970). R. C. Rollins, ed. Gray's Manual of Botany (Eighth (Centennial) - Illustrated ed.). D. Van Nostrand Company. p. 4. ISBN 0-442-22250-5.
    7. ^ Bebbington, A. "Toxicity of Equisetum to Horses". Retrieved 1 December 2010.
    8. ^ Howard, Michael. Traditional Folk Remedies (Century, 1987); p.159-160
    9. ^ La Vielleuse Habile, Jean-Francois Bouin, 1761, page 19.
    10. ^ Kearny, Peter. "Bio Dynamic Prep 508". Bio Dynamic Prep 208. City Food Growers. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
    11. ^ "Equisetum arvense". Poisonous Plants of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
    12. ^ Clemens, J (2003). "In Memory of Ella O. Campbell, DNZM, FRIH" (PDF). Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture. 6 (1): 2. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
    13. ^ Howell, Clayson (May 2008). Consolidated list of environmental weeds in New Zealand (PDF). DRDS292. Wellington: Department of Conservation. ISBN 978-0-478-14413-0. Retrieved 2009-05-06.


    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Field horsetail is cosmopolitan in distribution.  In North America it occurs from Newfoundland west to Alaska and south to Georgia, Alabama, Texas, and California [19,23,25].
    provided by eFloras
    Greenland; St. Pierre and Miquelon; Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., Nfld., N.W.T., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que., Sask., Yukon; all states except Fla., La., Miss., S.C.; Eurasia s to Himalayas, c China, Korea, Japan.
    Occurrence in North America
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
         AL  AK  AZ  AR  CA  CO  CT  DE  GA  HI
         ID  IN  IA  KS  KY  LA  ME  MD  MA  MI
         MN  MS  MO  MT  NE  NV  NH  NJ  NY  NC
         ND  OH  OK  OR  PA  RI  SC  SD  TN  TX
         UT  VT  VA  WA  WV  WI  WY  AB  BC  MB
         NB  NF  NT  NS  ON  PE  PQ  SK  YT
    Regional Distribution in the Western United States
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

        1  Northern Pacific Border
        2  Cascade Mountains
        3  Southern Pacific Border
        4  Sierra Mountains
        5  Columbia Plateau
        6  Upper Basin and Range
        7  Lower Basin and Range
        8  Northern Rocky Mountains
        9  Middle Rocky Mountains
       10  Wyoming Basin
       11  Southern Rocky Mountains
       12  Colorado Plateau
       13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont
       14  Great Plains
       15  Black Hills Uplift
       16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands


    provided by eFloras
    Among the many infraspecific taxa that have been named in this species, Equisetum arvense var. boreale Bongard has been most generally accepted and has been applied to plants with tall, erect stems with 3-ridged branches. Because both 3-ridged and 4-ridged branches may occur on a single stem, the variety boreale is not recognized here as distinct (R.L. Hauke 1966).
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: rhizome, sporophyte

    Field horsetail is a native, perennial, rhizomatous cryptogam.  The sporophyte is dimorphic with unbranched, fertile (stroboliferous), spore-producing stems and branched, sterile stems.  The spores germinate to produce a distinct gametophytic generation.  The prothallus (gametophyte) is tiny, from 0.002 to 0.008 inch (0.5-2.0 mm) in height (occasionally up to 0.016 inch [4 mm] in the center) and irregularly lobed or branched [4,14]. The sterile stems are jointed, hollow, usually erect, and bear up to 20 whorls of slender branches [9].  They are usually from 2 to 24 inches (5-60 cm) tall, rarely to 40 inches (1 m) tall [25].  The inconspicuous, scalelike leaves occur in whorls at the nodes and are connected at their bases.  The fertile stems are nonchlorophyllous and generally are from 2 to 12 inches (5-30 cm) tall [19,25].  The strobili are from 0.4 to 1.4 inches (1-3.5 cm) long, peduncled, and blunt.  The epidermis of both types of stems has regularly arranged, silicified projections [23]. The rhizomes of field horsetail are branched and creeping.  They are similar to the aerial stems except that they are not hollow [9]. Storage tubers are produced on the rhizomes [19].  The rhizomes extend to a depth of 40 inches (100 cm) or more; 50 percent of the total rhizome weight is in the top 10 inches (25 cm) of soil, 23 percent in the next 9.2 inches (23 cm), and the rest deeper [65].  Successive, layered horizontal rhizome systems occur at about 12-inch (30 cm) intervals.  Golub and Wetmore [24] found five such layers by digging to a 6.6 foot (2 m) depth, noting that the system extended even deeper. Root development takes place at the bases of lateral branch buds, both on rhizomes and erect shoots [33].
    provided by eFloras
    Aerial stems dimorphic; vegetative stems green, branched, 2--60(--100) cm; hollow center 1/3--2/3 stem diam. Sheaths squarish in face view, 2--5(--10) × 2--5(--9) mm; teeth dark, 4--14, narrow, 1--3.5 mm, often cohering in pairs. Branches in regular whorls, ascending, solid; ridges 3--4; valleys channeled; 1st internode of each branch longer than subtending stem sheath; sheath teeth attenuate. Fertile stems brown, lacking stomates, unbranched, shorter than vegetative stems, with larger sheaths, fleshy, ephemeral. 2 n =ca. 216.


    provided by eFloras
    Cones maturing in early spring. Roadsides, riverbanks, fields, marshes, pastures, tundra; 0--3200m.
    Habitat characteristics
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the term: facultative wetland species

    Field horsetail is a facultative wetland species [27].  Field horsetail occurs in woods, fields, meadows and swamps, and moist soils alongside streams, rivers, and lakes, and in disturbed areas [9,25].  Field horsetail usually occurs on moist sites but can also be found on dry and barren sites such as roadsides, borrow pits, and railway embankments [9,35].  Under suitably moist climatic conditions, gametophytes occur on newly deposited mud flats and gravel banks of rivers and lakes [14]. In the Adirondack Mountains of New York, field horsetail occurs from 210 to 2,100 feet (64-640 m) in elevation [42].  In Alaska, field horsetail is widely distributed from sea level to alpine communities.  On alpine sites it is found on heaths, moist meadows, and rocky slopes [56]. Field horsetail is found at a wide range of elevations.  Elevational distributions from selected western states are as follows [13]: Utah          4,700 to  8,000 feet (1,400-2,400 m) Colorado      5,100 to 10,800 feet (1,500-3,290 m) Wyoming       4,900 to  9,700 feet (1,500-3,000 m) Montana       2,900 to  4,600 feet (  880-1,400 m)
    Habitat: Cover Types
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

    More info for the terms: hardwood, swamp

         1  Jack pine
         5  Balsam fir
        12  Black spruce
        13  Black spruce - tamarack
        14  Northern pin oak
        15  Red pine
        16  Aspen
        17  Pin cherry
        18  Paper birch
        19  Gray birch - red maple
        20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple
        21  Eastern white pine
        22  White pine - hemlock
        23  Eastern hemlock
        24  Hemlock - yellow birch
        25  Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
        26  Sugar maple - basswood
        27  Sugar maple
        28  Black cherry - maple
        30  Red spruce - yellow birch
        31  Red spruce - sugar maple - beech
        32  Red spruce
        33  Red spruce - balsam fir
        34  Red spruce - Fraser fir
        35  Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir
        37  Northern white-cedar
        38  Tamarack
        39  Black ash - American elm - red maple
        40  Post oak - blackjack oak
        42  Bur oak
        43  Bear oak
        44  Chestnut oak
        45  Pitch pine
        46  Eastern redcedar
        50  Black locust
        51  White pine - chestnut oak
        52  White oak - black oak - northern red oak
        53  White oak
        55  Northern red oak
        57  Yellow-poplar
        58  Yellow-poplar - eastern hemlock
        59  Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak
        60  Beech - sugar maple
        61  River birch - sycamore
        62  Silver maple - American elm
        63  Cottonwood
        64  Sassafras - persimmon
        65  Pin oak - sweetgum
        69  Sand pine
        70  Longleaf pine
        71  Longleaf pine - scrub oak
        72  Southern scrub oak
        73  Southern redcedar
        74  Cabbage palmetto
        75  Shortleaf pine
        76  Shortleaf pine - oak
        78  Virginia pine - oak
        79  Virginia pine
        80  Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
        81  Loblolly pine
        82  Loblolly pine - hardwood
        83  Longleaf pine - slash pine
        84  Slash pine
        85  Slash pine - hardwood
        87  Sweet gum - yellow-poplar
        88  Willow oak - water oak - diamondleaf oak
        89  Live oak
        91  Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak
        92  Sweetgum - willow oak
        93  Sugarberry - American elm - green ash
        94  Sycamore - sweetgum - American elm
        95  Black willow
        96  Overcup oak - water hickory
        97  Atlantic white-cedar
        98  Pond pine
       100  Pondcypress
       101  Baldcypress
       102  Baldcypress - tupelo
       103  Water tupelo - swamp tupelo
       104  Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay
       107  White spruce
       108  Red maple
       109  Hawthorn
       110  Black oak
       111  South Florida slash pine
       201  White spruce
       202  White spruce - paper birch
       203  Balsam poplar
       204  Black spruce
       205  Mountain hemlock
       206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
       207  Red fir
       208  Whitebark pine
       209  Bristlecone pine
       210  Interior Douglas-fir
       211  White fir
       212  Western larch
       213  Grand fir
       215  Western white pine
       216  Blue spruce
       217  Aspen
       218  Lodgepole pine
       219  Limber pine
       221  Red alder
       222  Black cottonwood - willow
       223  Sitka spruce
       224  Western hemlock
       225  Western hemlock - Sitka spruce
       226  Coastal true fir - hemlock
       227  Western redcedar - western hemlock
       228  Western redcedar
       229  Pacific Douglas-fir
       230  Douglas-fir - western hemlock
       231  Port-Orford-cedar
       232  Redwood
       233  Oregon white oak
       234  Douglas-fir - tanoak - Pacific madrone
       235  Cottonwood - willow
       236  Bur oak
       237  Interior ponderosa pine
       243  Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
       244  Pacific ponderosa pine - Douglas-fir
       245  Pacific ponderosa pine
       246  California black oak
       247  Jeffrey pine
       248  Knobcone pine
       249  Canyon live oak
       250  Blue oak - Digger pine
       251  White spruce - aspen
       252  Paper birch
       253  Black spruce - white spruce
       254  Black spruce -  paper birch
       255  California coast live oak
       256  California mixed subalpine
    Habitat: Ecosystem
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

       FRES10  White - red - jack pine
       FRES11  Spruce - fir
       FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine
       FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
       FRES14  Oak - pine
       FRES15  Oak - hickory
       FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress
       FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood
       FRES18  Maple - beech - birch
       FRES19  Aspen - birch
       FRES20  Douglas-fir
       FRES21  Ponderosa pine
       FRES22  Western white pine
       FRES23  Fir - spruce
       FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce
       FRES25  Larch
       FRES26  Lodgepole pine
       FRES27  Redwood
       FRES28  Western hardwoods
       FRES36  Mountain grasslands
       FRES37  Mountain meadows
       FRES38  Plains grasslands
       FRES39  Prairie
       FRES41  Wet grasslands
    Habitat: Plant Associations
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info on this topic.

    This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

    More info for the terms: bog, forest, shrub

       K001  Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest
       K002  Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest
       K003  Silver fir - Douglas-fir forest
       K004  Fir - hemlock forest
       K005  Mixed conifer forest
       K006  Redwood forest
       K007  Red fir forest
       K008  Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest
       K009  Pine - cypress forest
       K010  Ponderosa shrub forest
       K011  Western ponderosa forest
       K012  Douglas-fir forest
       K013  Cedar - hemlock - pine forest
       K014  Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest
       K015  Western spruce - fir forest
       K016  Eastern ponderosa forest
       K017  Black Hills pine forest
       K018  Pine - Douglas-fir forest
       K019  Arizona pine forest
       K020  Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest
       K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest
       K022  Great Basin pine forest
       K025  Alder - ash forest
       K026  Oregon oakwoods
       K028  Mosaic of K002 and K026
       K029  California mixed evergreen forest
       K030  California oakwoods
       K036  Mosaic of K030 and K035
       K046  Desert: vegetation largely lacking
       K047  Fescue - oatgrass
       K048  California steppe
       K049  Tule marshes
       K050  Fescue - wheatgrass
       K051  Wheatgrass - bluegrass
       K052  Alpine meadows and barren
       K053  Grama - galleta steppe
       K054  Grama - tobosa prairie
       K057  Galleta - three-awn shrubsteppe
       K063  Foothills prairie
       K064  Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass
       K065  Grama - buffalograss
       K066  Wheatgrass - needlegrass
       K067  Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass
       K068  Wheatgrass - grama - buffalograss
       K069  Bluestem - grama prairie
       K070  Sandsage - bluestem prairie
       K072  Sea oats prairie
       K073  Northern cordgrass prairie
       K074  Bluestem prairie
       K075  Nebraska Sandhills prairie
       K076  Blackland prairie
       K077  Bluestem - sacahuista prairie
       K078  Southern cordgrass prairie
       K079  Palmetto prairie
       K080  Marl - everglades
       K081  Oak savanna
       K082  Mosaic of K074 and K100
       K083  Cedar glades
       K084  Cross Timbers
       K085  Mesquite - buffalograss
       K088  Fayette prairie
       K089  Black Belt
       K092  Everglades
       K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
       K094  Conifer bog
       K095  Great Lakes pine forest
       K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest
       K097  Southeastern spruce - fir forest
       K098  Northern floodplain forest
       K099  Maple - basswood forest
       K100  Oak - hickory forest
       K101  Elm - ash forest
       K102  Beech - maple forest
       K103  Mixed mesophytic forest
       K104  Appalachian oak forest
       K106  Northern hardwoods
       K107  Northern hardwoods - fir forest
       K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest
       K109  Transition between K104 and K106
       K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest
       K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest
       K112  Southern mixed forest
       K113  Southern floodplain forest
       K114  Pocosin
       K115  Sand pine scrub
       K116  Subtropical pine forest
    Key Plant Community Associations
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    More info for the terms: fern, forest, herbaceous, mesic, selection, shrub

    Field horsetail is abundant in many spruce communities, including white
    spruce (Picea glauca), black spruce (P. mariana), blue spruce (P.
    pungens), and Engelmann spruce (P. engelmannii).  In Alberta and British
    Columbia, other common understory species in the white spruce
    communities in which field horsetail is abundant include prickly rose
    (Rosa acicularis), honeysuckle (Lonicera involucrata), bunchberry
    (Cornus canadensis), twinflower (Linnea borealis), naked miterwort
    (Mitella nuda), and mountain fern moss (Hylocomium splendens) [1].

    Field horsetail is a common indicator or herbaceous layer dominant for
    mesic, hygric, and subhygric sites [3,26,40].  It occurs or is an
    herbaceous layer dominant in a number of riparian associations, with
    overstories of spruce, cottonwood (Populus spp.), willow (Salix spp.),
    paper birch (Betula papyrifera), or alder (Alnus spp.) [3,30,44].

    Field horsetail occasionally dominates sites lacking a woody overstory;
    such sites are usually adjacent to a forest or shrub community [27].  In
    Alberta field horsetail dominates low shores of channels and lakes with
    water horsetail, water sedge (Carex aquatilis), and pendent grass
    (Artophila fulva) [47].

    A selection of publications naming field horsetail as an indicator or
    herbaceous layer dominant is as follows:

    Old growth forests of the Canadian Rocky Mountain national parks [1]
    Classification of the riparian vegetation of the montane and subalpine
       zones in western Colorado [3]
    Forest community types of west-central Alberta in relation to selected
       environmental factors [10]
    Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in central
       and eastern Montana [26]
    Riparian dominance types of Montana [27]
    Habitat types on selected parts of the Gunnison and Uncompahgre     
       National Forests [38]
    Riparian zone associations: Deschutes, Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema  
       National Forests [39]
    Coniferous forest habitat types of northern Utah [48]
    Wetland community type classification for west-central Montana [70]
    Forest habitat types of Montana [53]
    Vegetation and soils along the Dempster Highway, Yukon Territory:
       I. Vegetation types [57]
    Forest habitat types of eastern Idaho-western Wyoming [71]
    A riparian community classification study [67]
    Riparian community type classification of eastern Idaho-western
       Wyoming [68]

General Ecology

    Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire
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    More info for the term: prescribed fire

    Hamilton's Research Papers (Hamilton 2006a, Hamilton 2006b) provide information on prescribed fire and postfire response of many plant species, including field horsetail, that was not available when this species review was originally written.
    Fire Ecology
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    More info for the terms: fire regime, fire-return interval, fuel

    Field horsetail usually occurs in moist habitats that do not undergo frequent fire.  For example, in Idaho and Montana, it occurs in Fire Group 11 stands (as described by Bradley and others), which have a fire-return interval of 325 to 335 years (plus or minus 50 years).  When fires do occur, however, they are often severe due to high fuel loads. Field horsetail is adapted to survive such fires; it has deep rhizomes that are not killed by even very hot fires [52].  Field horsetail also colonizes disturbed areas or new sites by wind-disseminated propagules, although this is probably rare [7]. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find FIRE REGIMES".
    Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
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    More info on this topic.

    More info for the term: geophyte

    Immediate Effect of Fire
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    Field horsetail is top-killed by most fires.  The rhizomes are particularly resistant to fire because they are buried deep in the mineral soil [39].
    Life Form
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    More info for the terms: fern, fern ally

    Fern or Fern Ally
    Plant Response to Fire
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    More info for the terms: climax, frequency, gametophyte, herbaceous, presence, seed, succession, wildfire

    Field horsetail regenerates rapidly after a fire [40].  The frequency of occurrence of field horsetail is usually unchanged or increased after fire.  Gametophyte establishment requires the presence of moist, exposed mineral soils (as well as a source of spores) [7]. In the first summer following a late May, 1983, wildfire in white spruce stands, a number of herbaceous species established from seed.  These included Bicknell geranium (Geranium bicknellii), Corydalis sempervirens, false dragonhead (Dracocephalum parviflorum), and fireweed.  By 1985, they were replaced by more persistent species including field horsetail and bluejoint reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis) [61]. In newly burned white spruce sites, field horsetail occurred in most stands within weeks of the fire and gradually increased through postfire succession.  Field horsetail is dominant in the herbaceous layer by 46 to 150 years after fire and persists into the climax stage (300 or more years) [15,21].
    Post-fire Regeneration
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    More info for the terms: geophyte, ground residual colonizer, herb, rhizome

       Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil    Geophyte, growing points deep in soil    Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)    Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)
    Regeneration Processes
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    The main mode of reproduction of field horsetail is asexual; conditions for the production of gametophytes from spores are limited and relatively rare [14,45]. Asexual reproduction:  Field horsetail spreads from extensive rhizomes. Even short segments of broken rhizomes (1.2 inches [3 cm]) will sprout [8].  Overwintering buds develop at the nodes of the rhizomes [29]. Sexual reproduction:  The spores of field horsetail are equipped with elaters, which are long appendages that expand and contract with changes in humidity.  Elaters function to dig the spore into the soil surface and to tangle spores together, thereby creating a larger propagule and increasing the probability that prothalli will be close enough to ensure fertilization.  Elaters may also aid in wind dissemination.  Spores released by the strobiliferous stems are dispersed by wind or water. The spores are thin-walled, short-lived, and quickly germinate under moist conditions [31].  The spores germinate to form prothalli:  tiny plants only a few cell layers thick that are usually either male or female, producing only antheridia or archegonia, respectively.  Swimming sperm are released by the antheridia and require water for transport to the egg-containing archegonia.  After fertilization takes place, the sporophytic generation (the identifiable large plant) develops in situ, growing out of the prothallus.
    Successional Status
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    More info on this topic.

    More info for the terms: climax, cover, cover type, forest, herbaceous, presence, succession

    Facultative Seral Species Field horsetail is present in both seral and climax communities; its presence is largely dictated by edaphic conditions rather than shade or other factors.  Field horsetail is an early colonizer on floodplain deposits.  These communities are often destroyed by flooding before beingcan stabilized by willow establishment [62].  Field horsetail continues to be present through succession, occurring under more developed willow-alder communities, as an herbaceous layer dominant with meadow horsetail (Equisetum pratense) under open balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera)/thinleaf alder (Alnus tenuifolia) stands, and in the herbaceous layer of closed balsam poplar/white spruce communities [62]. Field horsetail is an early colonizer of moist, primary successional sites created by glacial retreat [59].  It is among the most common and abundant sprouter in areas disturbed by debris from drilling activity in northern Alaska.  In most of these areas, field horsetail sprouted from rhizomes already present under the debris [17].  Logging or logging and burning may either maintain or increase field horsetail cover, depending on pretreatment levels and forest cover type [12,15].


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    More info on this topic.

    Strobiliferous shoot buds are initiated in July, August and into September.  Vegetative buds are initiated in October and November. Strobiliferous buds elongate early in spring (March to May, depending on latitude), usually before the vegetative stems elongate [29].  Emergence is earliest in dry sandy places, later in wet or clay soils [9].  Spores are shed in early May in the Adirondack Mountains of New York [42].  The strobiliferous shoots die after the spores are shed [4].  Sterile stems emerge in May, producing branches after they are 3 to 5 inches (8-12 cm) in height [9,33]. Stems are killed by hard frost but may live into winter in areas where they are protected [9].  Gametophytes are killed by frost; they do not live longer than one growing season [14].


    Management considerations
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    More info for the term: rhizome

    Field horsetail is a weed in more than 25 crops of the world but is
    seldom the worst offender.  It is probably toxic to surrounding
    vegetation due to high levels of alkaloids [33].  Field horsetail
    increases after soil cultivation with or without the application of
    herbicides [8].  It may be at least partially controlled by some
    herbicides [51].

    Field horsetail is sensitive to moisture stress; drought conditions
    result in a reduction in the production of new shoots [8].

    Repeated cultivation by hoeing reduces the number of mature shoots per
    acre [8].  It is recommended that agricultural land infested with field
    horsetail be deep-plowed each season to prevent deep rhizome
    development; however, this will probably not be successful if the
    rhizomes have already penetrated below plow-depth [33].


    Cover Value
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    More info for the term: cover

    Field horsetail provides poor to fair cover for wildlife [13].
    Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Field horsetail is a common food item consumed by grizzly bears [37]. On average, field horsetail formed 2.4 to 5.2 percent by volume of the grizzly bear summer diet in Yellowstone National Park and was ranked 10th out of 32 food items in amount of consumption [49].  Field horsetail occurs in the wet meadows, marshes and moist cirque basins most often visited by grizzly bears in spring [2].  Field horsetail is a minor to important component in the spring and early summer diet of black bears [28,32].  It is of low nutritive value [49]. Field horsetail is not an important range forage for livestock, and excessive amounts (more than 20 percent) in hay can cause scours, paralysis, and death in horses [36].
    Nutritional Value
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    More info for the term: fresh

    The nutritive value of the sterile shoots of field horsetail, as
    percentage of dry weight, is as follows [49]:

    protein                  15
    nitrogen-free extract    40.6
    ether extract             3.7
    gross kilocalories        2.9 per gram

    Aerial, fresh field horsetail nutritive components, as percentage of dry
    weight, are as follows [50]:

    dry matter                    100
    ash                            18.5
    crude fiber                    23.5
    ether extract                   2.4
    nitrogen free extract          50.3
    protein (nitrogen x 6.25)       5.3
    digestible protein for
       cattle                       2.4
       goats                        1.5
       horses                       2.0
       rabbits                      2.8
       sheep                        1.9
    Other uses and values
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    Native Americans and early settlers used tea made from field horsetail as a diuretic.  Field horsetail was used as a cough medicine for horses. Dyes for clothing, lodges, and porcupine quills were made from field horsetail.  It was used for scouring and polishing objects.  The young shoots were eaten either cooked or raw [40]. Silica extracted from field horsetail is utilized for manufacture of remineralizing and diuretic medicinal products.  Other potential uses of biogenic silica include industrial applications (abrasives, toothpaste, protective cloth, optical fibers, thickeners for paint, etc.), detergents, and cleaners.  Leaf-odor constituents were used widely in th 1970's in perfumes but are little used now.  These constituents can be used as food flavors and flavor enhancers, and as animal repellants [63].
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    Field horsetail is low in palatability to livestock, deer, and elk [39].


    Common Names
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    field horsetail
    common horsetail
    queue de renard
    jointed rush
    horse pipes
    mare's tail
    snake grass
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    Equisetum arvense var. alpestre Wahlenb.
    E. a. var. boreale (Bong.) Rupr.
    E. a. var. riparium Farw.
    E. calderi Boivin
    provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
    The accepted scientific name for field horsetail is Equisetum arvense L.
    Fernald [19] listed E. a. var. boreale (Bong.) Ledeb., a northern
    variety. There are a number of named forms that are not accepted by
    most authors as true forms; they may be growth variants that depend on
    environmental conditions and are not sufficiently distinct to warrant
    taxonomic recognition [9,69].

    Field horsetail and water horsetail (E. fluviatale) will hybridize de
    novo where they occur together. The product, E. x litorale Kuhlewein is
    sterile, but vegetatively vigorous and persistent [23].