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Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense, bottlebrush, paddock pipes, shave grass) is a highly attractive, fascinating plant that grows extensively on moist waste ground. It is a perennial and native to Europe, but it is found in North America and Asia, too. Its upright, branched stems have black-toothed sheaths and whorls of spreading green branches. It looks like a green horse’s tail!

Horsetail has hardly changed since prehistoric times. It belongs to a very primitive family of plants called the Equisetaceae. Larger plants of this family probably formed a great proportion of the vegetation that formed our coal deposits. Gigantic fossil Equisetaceae from the carboniferous period have been found. The horsetail of today is extremely small in comparison, roughly 50 centimetres or so in height.