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Equisetum hyemale

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Equisetum hyemale, commonly known as rough horsetail,<ref name=BSBI07>Template:Cite web</ref> scouring rush, scouringrush horsetail and in South Africa as snake grass, is a perennial herb in the fern Division Pteridophyta.<ref name="lifeisagarden.co.za">Lifeisagarden.co.za: "Invasive alien plants—Equisetum hyemale."</ref> It is a native plant throughout the Holarctic Kingdom, found in North America, Europe, and northern Asia.


In nature Equisetum hyemale grows in mesic (reliably moist) habitats, often in sandy or gravelly areas. It grows from between sea level to Template:Convert in elevation.<ref name="jepson">Jepson</ref>

It is primarily found in wetlands, and in riparian zones of rivers and streams where it can withstand seasonal flooding.<ref name="jepson"/> It is also found around springs and seeps, and can indicate their presence when not flowing. Other habitats include moist forest and woodland openings, lake and pond shores, ditches, and marshes and swamps.

Colony in open woodland, Cap Tourmente, Québec.


Equisetum hyemale has vertical jointed reed-like stalks of medium to dark green. The hollow stems are up to Template:Convert in height. The stems are not branched. The stems themselves have conspicuous ridges, which are impregnated with silica. This makes the ridges feel rough and harsh.<ref name="ladybird">Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Database: Equisetum hyemale (scouring rush)</ref><ref>Webb, S.A., Parnell, J. and Doogue, D. 1996. Dundalgan Press (W. Tempest), Dundalk Template:ISBN</ref>

The tiny leaves are joined together around the stem, forming a narrow black-green band or sheath at each joint. Like other ferns and their relatives, the plant reproduces by spores and does not produce flowers or seeds.<ref name="ladybird"/>

The stems are generally deciduous in cold climates, and remain during winter in warmer climates. It forms dense spreading colonies, in full to partial sun.


Two Equisetum plants are sold commercially under the names Equisetum japonicum (barred horsetail) and Equisetum camtschatcense (Kamchatka horsetail). These are both types of E. hyemale var. hyemale, although they may also be listed as varieties of E. hyemale.


Dried plant, used as traditional polishing material in Japan.


The rough stems have been used to scour or clean pots, and used as sandpaper.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref><ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

Boiled and dried Equisetum hyemale is used as traditional polishing material, similar to a fine grit sandpaper, in Japan.


The stems are used to shape the reeds of reed instruments such as clarinets or saxophones.


Some Plateau Indian tribes boiled the stalks to produce a drink used as a diuretic and to treat venereal disease.<ref name="hunn">Template:Cite book</ref>

It is used as a homeopathic remedy.<ref name="ladybird"/>


Equisetum hyemale cultivated as an ornamental plant, for use in contained garden beds and planters, and in pots. It is a popular "icon plant" in contemporary Modernist and Asian style garden design. Its tight verticality fits into narrow planting spaces between walkways and walls, and on small balconies.

It is also used as an accent plant in garden ponds and ornamental pools, and other landscape water features, planted in submerged pots.

The plant is sometimes sold in the nursery trade as "barred horsetail" or "Equisetum japonicum", but is different in appearance than Equisetum ramosissimum var. Japonicum.


The plant spreads very aggressively by underground runners, reaching under/past pavements and garden walls. Root barriers or large sunken planters ease containment in the garden.<ref name="ladybird"/>

The plant is an invasive species of moist natural habitats in South Africa and Australia.<ref name="lifeisagarden.co.za"/>



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