Equisetum hyemale

scouring rush horsetail

Habit: this wetland plant is a non-flowering, rush-like, rhizomatous, perennial with hollow bamboo-like evergreen stems that have longitudinal ridges running along the length. The tiny leaves appear as grayish-white and black bands that occur every couple of inches. Fertile stems are shorter and develop, at the stem tips, a pine cone-like fruiting head that contains numerous spores. Over time scouring rush can be invasive and should be planted where this is desirable, or kept in a root control bag or in containers sunk in the ground with the lip just barely above ground level.

Ecology: commonly found in Canada and through the United States in moist areas typically near streams and other bodies of water, usually at lower elevations.

Growing Conditions: full sun to partial shade, needs wet to moist soil. Tolerates an extremely wide range of soils and will grow in up to 4” of standing water.

Receives its name from the use of its stems to scour objects in order to polish or clean them and is still harvested commercially in northern Mexico for polishing fine furniture. Scouring rush contains large amounts of sharp silica crystal.

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Type: Evergreen Wetland Perennial
Height: 2-7 ft (0.6-2m)
USDA Zones: 3-11
Map courtesy of USDA-NRCS Plants Database.