I've been working on identifying the genus Equisetum (horsetails) for the past couple of years. I've found 5 different ones around here, and have pictures of 4 of them. (I just can't find the pix of the fifth. I'll either find them, or take more, or both.)
The Equisetaceae are one of the true living fossils. They covered the earth during the Paleozoic Era, and they were as tall as trees. Imagine walking in a forest of these! There was even more variety then. Now, there is only one genus left in the family.
The cone-like structures at the ends of the fertile stems are called strobili. They produce spores. Some horsetail stems photosynthsize and some don't. I'm not knowledgeable yet to know all the details, but I think I can ID all of these species without a book.
The first one is Field Horsetail, probably the most common one there is. These are the fertile stalks, but later in the year sterile stalks grow up with long skinny branches. You might see it beside railroads.
Next we have Scouring Rush. These pictures are of old stems, because it's evergreen. It's also very common. It never gets branches, but just grows those stiff stalks.
Here's one that's lovely, the Meadow Horsetail. I've seen this one grow two feet high! It looks very layered, because the branches grow straight out from the stalks.
Finally, one of my favorites. I've found one place where this grows. These tiny clumps of stiff curly stalks are Dwarf Scouring Rush. It never gets branches either.
The other one I've found locally is Woodland Horsetail. Wish I could find the pic. But I know where it grows! Oddly enough, as early as things are this spring, the horsetails don't seem to be coming up early.
If you want to see all the pictures, follow the link below.
|See Equisetum Index|
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