Horsetails are small, hollow plants that form sheaths around the stem with ridges and hollow, jointed stems.
They are closely related to ferns and are found almost everywhere in the world. It has a high reproduction capacity, and it easily conquers new habitats.
Equisetum leaves are reduced and non-photosynthetic. They contain a single non-branching vascular trace, which is the defining feature of microphylls.
Horsetail leaves are arranged in whorls fused into nodal sheaths, with hollow, jointed, and ridged stems, and sometimes whorls of branches at the nodes.
Horsetail Facts for Kids
- Horsetail size varies with species.
- The largest species of horsetail can reach 6 feet tall.
- Horsetail leaves are arranged in whorls along the stem.
- Stems are green and play a role in photosynthesis
- Horsetail stems are coated in silica.
- Horsetail has a very strong rhizome that produces new stalks from the ground.
- This plant lives in wet sand or clay.
Horsetail is fast-growing and has no natural predators. This makes it easy for it to invade new territories.
Horsetail is not susceptible to viral or bacterial infections and is tolerant to pesticides even at high concentrations. They are also resistant to drought conditions.
Horsetail contains proteins (enzymes called thiaminase) that can poison animals.
Horsetail has reduced leaves in whorls arranged along the branched stem that looks like a horse’s tail.
Green in color, the stems play an important role in photosynthesis
Horsetail spores are borne under sporangiophores in strobili, cone-like structures at the tips of some stems. These cone-bearing shoots are produced early in spring.
Equisetum cell walls
All Equisetum species tested contained MXE activity, an enzyme previously unknown to occur in any other plants. The presence of MLG in Equisetum cells may indicate that they have evolved MLG along with some mechanism of cell wall modification.
The Equisetum species (horsetails) are divided into several subgenera, including a type subgenus, Equisetum, and two commercial varieties, Equisetum camtschatcense (barred horsetail) and Equisetum hyemale var. hyemale (Kamchatka horsetail).
Folk Medicine and Safety Concern
Folk medicine uses horsetail for urinary and kidney infections. Horsetail can also be used to treat wounds, inflammation, and ulcers.
Extracts and other preparations of E. arvense have served as herbal remedies, but the European Food Safety Authority concludes there is no evidence for the supposed health effects of E. arvense.