Plant Profile: Equisetum Horse Tail

posted in: Herbs, Plant Profiles | 9

Horse tail is a wild plant that grows in the damp, wild area of the garden. It is also known as snake grass, scouring rush, bottle brush or puzzle grass. It is considered a a living fossil and a prehistoric plant.

equisetum horse tail at
horse tail, early May

The plant has no leaves or flowers so does not seed but propagates itself with spores and rhizomes. In early spring, about mid May, the leafless or fertile stems emerge and are light brown in colour. They reach about about one foot high with a cone of spores at the top. Soon after the spores are shed they die back. Then the next stage of the plant starts to grow.

equisetum horse tail at
horse tail, end of May

When the thin green stems branch out from the main stem it is time to harvest the plant if you want it for medicinal purposes. I do not harvest the plant but just let it grow in the damp area of the garden.

equisetum horse tail at
horse tail, mid June

By early June the plant has grown taller and started to spread a bit. It can reach between 2 and 4 feet tall.

equisetum horse tail at
horse tail, early June

For thousands of years horse tail has been used for its medicinal remedies. It contains silicon, saponins and antioxidant flavonoids and it is a source of potassium.

herbal books at

Two of my favourite herb books had some very good information on horse tail. If you don’t have access to books you can always do a search on the internet and find lots of info.

Be on the lookout for horse tail, perhaps it grows in a wet area of your property.

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9 Responses

  1. Crafty Gardener

    From Margy, who had a problem posting a comment. Hope it is fixed now.
    Ever since I took botany in high school I’ve been captivated by Horsetail. We illustrated plants in a journal then and I loved drawing it. We have lots of it in our moist areas near the cabin and along logging roads. – Margy
    Margy recently posted..Spring Gardening Update

  2. Lorrie

    Horsetail is a persistent plant that isn’t welcome in gardens as it’s hard to control. It grows plentifully along roadsides here and I’ve always admired its feathery look.

    • Crafty Gardener

      It isn’t a garden bed plant for sure, we have a marshy wild area at the back of the garden and it grows there.

  3. Kathy feicke

    Just wanted to say how much I enjoy your posts even though I live I Florida. I noticed the Horsetail. We were in Alaska 2 years ago and saw that plant growing in the gardens. I wish we could grow that in Tampa, but I think it is toooooo hot here.

  4. Myrtle

    Thank you for this very interesting & informative post I don’t think I have see it, will be watching for it now.

  5. linda

    Hi Linda…
    This brings back memories for me…
    We had a cottage on Lake Simcoe…my siblings and I used to go into the woods behind our cottage, to pick raspberries…
    I remember encountering this plant,and always found it fascinating!
    Now I know the name…and a bit of its History!
    enjoy your week…
    Linda :o)

  6. Lucy Corrander

    I love this plant. It’s fascinating. It grows all over my allotment and is something of a pain. Its roots go deep and it’s pretty difficult to keep at bay. It doesn’t seem to need marshy ground.

  7. Margie

    I misread the post title as “Horse Trail” and thought you were going to talk about horses. HA!

    I’ll have to keep an eye out for horse tail during my outdoor strolls.

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