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Equisetum hyemale - L.

Common Name Dutch Rush, Scouringrush horsetail, Horsetail, Scouring Rush, Rough Horsetail
Family Equisetaceae
USDA hardiness 3-11
Known Hazards Large quantities of the plant can be toxic. This is because it contains the enzyme thiaminase[172], a substance that can rob the body of the vitamin B complex[65]. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase[172]. The plant also contains equisetic acid - see the notes on medicinal uses for more information[213].
Habitats Shady streambanks etc, to 500 metres[17].
Range Temperate regions of Europe, including Britain, N. America and Asia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Equisetum hyemale Dutch Rush,  Scouringrush horsetail, Horsetail, Scouring Rush, Rough Horsetail


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Equisetum_hiemale_nf.jpg
Equisetum hyemale Dutch Rush,  Scouringrush horsetail, Horsetail, Scouring Rush, Rough Horsetail
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Summary

Bloom Color: Unknown. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Equisetum species - horsetail family are Creeping, perenial, Branching rootstocks, rooted at the nodes. The Arial stems may be annual or Perennial, are cylindrical, fluted, simple or with whorled branches at the jointed nodes. The internodes are usually hollow. The Surfaces of the stems are covered with Silica. The Cones are terminal. Form: Spreading or horizontal, Upright or erect, Variable spread.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Equisetum hyemale is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. The seeds ripen from July to August.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Habitats

 Bog Garden; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root  Stem
Edible Uses:

Strobil (the fertile shoots in spring) - cooked[177]. An asparagus substitute. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Roots - dried and then cooked[257]. A source of starch[177]. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. A further report says that the peeled stems, base of the plant, root and tubers were eaten raw by the N. American Indians, the report went on to say that this may be inadvisable[85].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antibacterial  Antiinflammatory  Antispasmodic  Appetizer  Cancer  Diaphoretic  Diuretic  Expectorant  
Febrifuge  Hypotensive  Parasiticide  Styptic

Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants[238]. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals[238, 279]. The plant is anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, haemostatic, hypotensive and styptic[147, 176. 218, 279]. It also has an appetite-stimulating effect[279]]. The barren stems are used, they are most active when fresh but can also be dried and sometimes the ashes of the pant are used[4]. The plant is a useful diuretic when taken internally and is used in the treatment of kidney and bladder problems[4]. A decoction applied externally will stop the bleeding of wounds and promote healing[4]. The plant contains polyphenolic flavonoids with bactericidal activity[218].

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Other Uses

Dye  Fungicide  Liquid feed  Musical  Paper  Parasiticide  Polish  Sandpaper  Scourer

The stems are very rich in silica[4]. They are used for scouring and polishing metal[1, 4, 46, 61, 99] and as a fine sandpaper[54, 99]. The stems are first bleached by repeated wetting and drying in the sun[74]. They can also be used as a polish for wooden floors and furniture[46, 178]. The infused stem is an effective fungicide against mildew, mint rust and blackspot on roses[14]. It also makes a good liquid feed[54]. Used as a hair rinse it can eliminate fleas, lice and mites[213, 257]. A light pink dye is obtained from the stem[99]. The hollow stems have been used as whistles[257]. Another report says that the stem joints are pulled apart and used by children to produce a whistling sound[257].

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Container, Ground cover, Woodland garden. Prefers a moist soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5[200]. Plants are hardy to about -30°c[200]. The stems of this species were once exported to Britain in quantity from Holland so that they could be used as an abrasive for cleaning pots and pans[238]. Plants have a deep and penetrating root system and can be invasive. If grown in the garden they are best kept in bounds by planting them in a large container which can be sunk into the ground[200]. Special Features:North American native, Invasive, Naturalizing, Wetlands plant.

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

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Propagation

Spores - best collected as soon as they are ripe in the spring and surface-sown immediately on a sterile compost. Keep moist and pot up as soon as the plants are large enough to handle. Very difficult[200]. Division. The plants usually spread very freely when well sited and should not really need any assistance.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Equisetum arvenseField Horsetail23
Equisetum fluviatileSwamp Horsetail, Water horsetail22
Equisetum palustreMarsh Horsetail02
Equisetum pratenseMeadow Horsetail22
Equisetum sylvaticumWood Horsetail, Woodland horsetail12
Equisetum telmateiaGiant Horsetail11
Equisetum variegatumVariegated Horsetail, Variegated scouringrush, Alaskan scouringrush02

 

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Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

117

Links / References

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Readers comment

Little Bit Farm   Thu Jul 24 2008

Growing up we used these as whistles. We would separate the sections and then blow across the end of the section. Each section is a little higher or lower in tone depending upon its place in the reed. Sections toward the base are lower, because they are larger. Sections toward the top are higher being smaller. I have also heard that horsetail is highly antifungal. Sometimes it is used to treat nail fungus by soaking the affected part in the tea. It is not listed in your medicinal uses, but is listed as anti-fungal against fungal disease on roses.

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