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Equisetum pratense - Ehrh.

Common Name Meadow Horsetail
Family Equisetaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
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 Grassy stream banks, up to 900 metres[17]
Range Arctic and temperate regions of Europe, including Britain, N. America, central and northern Asia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Equisetum pratense Meadow Horsetail


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Equisetum pratense Meadow Horsetail
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Summary

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.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Equisetum pratense is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. The seeds ripen in April.
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.

Synonyms

Habitats

 Bog Garden; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root.
Edible Uses:

Roots - raw or cooked[46, 61, 85, 161, 257]. 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.



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].

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

Prefers a moist soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5[200]. Plants are hardy to about -30°c[200]. 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].

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 hyemaleDutch Rush, Scouringrush horsetail, Horsetail, Scouring Rush, Rough Horsetail22
Equisetum palustreMarsh Horsetail02
Equisetum sylvaticumWood Horsetail, Woodland horsetail12
Equisetum telmateiaGiant Horsetail11
Equisetum variegatumVariegated Horsetail, Variegated scouringrush, Alaskan scouringrush02

 

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Expert comment

Author

Ehrh.

Botanical References

17

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Annoyed but hopeful   Fri Mar 18 22:37:40 2005

The Meadow Horsetail (or Snake Grass as we call it) is taking over our year. I might not mind , but it's getting to 6 or 7 feet. It's killing bushes in our yard and just last year it got into my flower beds. I care a lot about my flower beds and I would really prefer that this plant didn't choke out my beautiful lillies. I know most people consider this a plant, but since we haven't been able to get rid of it, and at the rate in which it spreads and grows, it's nothing but a weed in my yard. If you have any suggestions as to how to get rid of it, it would be very much appreciated. Also, we have tried everything. We've even had to use chemicals illegally (not diluted). NOthing has seemed to work. So if anyone has any ideas, please contact me at xangel2004@yahoo.com. Thank you so much.

Alan   Thu Jul 20 2006

Royal Horticultural Society Advice: Controlling field horsetail

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