Equisetum arvense L.

field horsetail

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Field horsetail is distributed throughout the temperate northern hemisphere, including nearly all of North America. The young shoots are edible and the mature ones are sometimes used as a scouring tool. Field horsetail has also been used for a variety of medicinal purposes by Native Americans. In addition, it is an important component of the spring and early summer diet of black bears. It frequently hybridizes with river horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile) where populations of the two species co-occur.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), fens (calcium-rich wetlands), forest edges, forests, meadows and fields, shores of rivers or lakes, swamps, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Stem form
the stem is relatively straight
Branches
there are branches off the main stem, but these branches are not branched
Cone tip shape
The tip of the spore cone is blunt
Sheathes on older stems
the leaf sheathes persist in older stems
Sheath color
the leaf sheath is mainly black
Stem cross-section
up to half of the stem diameter is occupied by the hollow central cavity
Number of stem ridges
4–14
Stem color
  • the aerial stem color is green
  • the aerial stem color is pink to light brown
Sheath border color
the border of the leaf sheath is dark, or with a narrow white edge
Length of branch section
the first internode of the branch is equal to or longer than the associated stem sheath
Show All Characteristics
  • Leaves
    Leaf length
    1–3.5 mm
    Leaves per node
    4–14
    Sheath border color
    the border of the leaf sheath is dark, or with a narrow white edge
    Sheath color
    the leaf sheath is mainly black
    Sheathes on older stems
    the leaf sheathes persist in older stems
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of forests
    • edges of wetlands
    • fens (calcium-rich wetlands)
    • forests
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
    • shores of rivers or lakes
    • swamps
  • Spores or spore cones
    Cone length
    17–40 mm
    Cone tip shape
    The tip of the spore cone is blunt
    Spore form
    the spores are green and spherical
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branch grooves
    the interior of the grrove is C-shaped
    Branches
    there are branches off the main stem, but these branches are not branched
    How hollow is stem
    At least 25
    Length of branch section
    the first internode of the branch is equal to or longer than the associated stem sheath
    Number of stem ridges
    4–14
    Plant height
    20–1000 mm
    Stem cavities
    12
    Stem color
    • the aerial stem color is green
    • the aerial stem color is pink to light brown
    Stem cross-section
    up to half of the stem diameter is occupied by the hollow central cavity
    Stem differences
    the vegetative and reproductive stems differ in appearance
    Stem form
    the stem is relatively straight
    Stem texture
    the stem feels smooth or slightly rough
    Stem thickness
    0.8–4.5 mm

Wetland Status

Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FAC)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Equisetum pratense:
leaves with relatively broad white margins and a central stem cavity that is 35-50% of the entire stem diameter (vs. E. arvense, with leaves with very narrow white margins and a central stem cavity that is ca. 25% of the entire stem diameter)

Synonyms

  • Equisetum arvense var. boreale (Bong.) Rupr.

Family

Equisetaceae

Genus

Equisetum

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