Scientific name: Equisetaceae spp.
Abundance: uncommon
What: young stems, roots
How: tea with young stems boiled in 3-4 changes of water or roots after roasting
Where: near water
When: young shoots in the spring, roots all year
Nutritional Value: minerals
Other uses: These plants contain a large amount of silica which makes them excellent for scrubbing dishes in the wild. They also contain some very astringent compounds which makes mashed-up horsetails an excellent clotting agent to help stop bleeding.
Dangers: Equisetaceae species contain thiaminase, an enzyme which removes vitamin B from the body. This enzyme is destroyed by cooking the horsetails.

Medicinal Summary:
Stems - hemostat; wound Healer; diuretic; assists rebuilding non-chronic connective tissue damage (poultice, tisane)

Leaf Arrangement: The leaves are arranged in whorls at regular intervals along the stem. These leaves are small and scale-like.

Leaf Shape: Leaves are reduced to small, non-photosynthetic scales that are fused at the base, forming a sheath around the stem.

Leaf Venation: There is no distinct venation due to the reduced size and form of the leaves.

Leaf Margin: Leaf margins are not applicable, as the leaves are scale-like and fused.

Leaf Color: The scale leaves are usually the same color as the stem, typically green to brownish-green.

Flower Structure: These plants do not produce true flowers. They reproduce by spores produced by "bee hive" looking structures at the tips of the stalks.

Flower Color: Not applicable, as Equisetaceae species do not have flowers.

Fruit: No true fruit is produced; they reproduce via spores released from cone-like structures.

Seed: No seeds are produced; reproduction is through spores.

Stem: The stem is elongated, jointed, and hollow, with ridges and furrows running along its length. Texture is rough.

Hairs: There are no hairs on the stem or leaves.

Height: The height varies widely among species, ranging from a few inches to several feet tall.

Stand of horsetails


Close-up of stalk tip.
Horse Tail

Spore-producing bodies maturing left to right.

Really close-up of Horsetail tips.

Close-up of Horsetails "joints".

Getting ready to clean some pots.

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Looking like prehistoric reeds, horsetails are found in large clumps in the sandy soil along Texas streams. They look prehistoric because they are prehistoric, being 100 million years old. Horsetails reproduce via spores rather than seeds, which puts them closer to ferns than most other vascular plants. A tall stand can reach 30 inches high and densely packed.

Tea from the plant has a slight "black licorice" crossed with green tea flavor. Crushed up a 6-8 horsetails into a cup of water and then boil them for ten minutes. Let stand until cool enough to drink. The silicic acid found in horsetail tea is thought to strengthen the walls of blood vessels and the air sacs in lungs along with promoting regrowth of damaged joint tissue. Its astringent chemicals reduce bleeding especially in the mouth and act as a diuretic to flush out the body.

The high silicate content of horsetails makes them excellent wilderness pot scrubbers. A handful of them rubbed will quickly scrap clean a dirty cook pot, as many old boy scouts know.

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