Equisetum hyemale, Horsetail Reed
Equisetum hyemale is a vigorous evergreen perennial with a striking vertical habit. Plants produce multiple bamboo-like dark green stems arranged in dense clumps. This handsome rush-like plant adapts to a wide variety of growing conditions but is found most often in sunny or partly shaded wetlands or water gardens. This species occurs in wet open woods, riparian zones of streams and rivers, shores of lakes and ponds, alluvial flats, springs, seeps, prairie swales, marshes, swamps, ditches, pastures and gravelly railroad right-of-ways. Equisetum hyemale is found more often in disturbed sites than in high quality natural areas.
Hardy from USDA Zones 4-9. Equisetum hyemale is a vigorous perennial with aggressive burrowing rhizomes.
Dense clumps of rigid upright stems arise from the rhizomes. The attractive stems are cylindrical, hollow and less than ½” across.
Each stem has vertical ridges and is jointed or segmented. The nodes contain rings of tiny scale-like leaves and dark gray sheaths with black bands.
Occasionally fertile stems develop 1-2” yellowish or reddish spore bearing cones. The cones wither by late summer after the spores have been released.
This species is 2-4’ tall and 1-6’ wide. Plants form large dense colonies from their robust rhizomes.
Equisetum hyemale thrives in sunny or shady sites with moist to wet soil.
Plants adapt to sandy, gravelly, clay or saturated mucky soils and sites with shallow standing water or fluctuating water levels. This species tolerates drought and acid or alkaline soil.
In gardens, this aggressive plant should be confined with deep soil barriers or in pots without drainage holes. Rhizomes are extremely vigorous and have the ability to deeply penetrate the soil and grow under sidewalks or retaining walls.
This species is pest resistant and unpalatable to deer and other herbivores.
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