Equisetum hyemale – Scouringrush Horsetail
Scientific Name: Equisetum hyemale
Common Names: Scouringrush Horsetail, Scouring Horsetail, Common Scouring Rush, Scouring-rush, Rough Horsetail, Tall Scouring-rush, Western Scouringrush, Dutch Rush
Growth Habit: Herb/Forb
Arizona Native Status: Native
Habitat: Upland, Mountain, Riparian. This plant grows in moist or wet soil in full sun to part shade along streams or in meadows in the mountains.
Flower Color: Non-flowering. Like ferns, this plant produces reproductive spores instead of flowers and seeds.
Height: Up to 7 feet (2 m) tall, but usually half that
Description: The stems emerge from underground rhizomes and are evergreen, bright green when young, dark green when mature, hollow, finely grooved, rough-textured, jointed, and unbranched unless damaged. The whorls of tiny, scale-like leaves are fused together at the stem nodes, forming sheaths that are about as long as wide. The sheaths have a dark lower band, a broad, light middle band, and a dark, toothed upper band. The strobili (spore cones) at the stem tips are brown, oblong, and sharply mucronate (rounded but tapering abruptly to a sharp point). The plants are upright, reed-like, and spread aggressively by underground rhizomes in favorable locations. Cultivated Scouringrush Horsetail plants are often kept in sunken pots to control their spreading.
The stems have a rough, sandpapery texture and are very rich in silica, and because of this, they were used to scour and clean metal cooking pots and as a fine sandpaper for wood and bone. The stem sections can also be pulled apart and made into whistles.
The similar Smooth Horsetail (Equisetum laevigatum) has smooth stems and sheaths that are longer than wide and soon shed.
Poisonous – Although used for medicinal purposes, this plant is poisonous to livestock and to humans if eaten uncooked and in large amounts.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Division: Equisetophyta – Horsetails
Family: Equisetaceae – Horsetail family
Genus: Equisetum L. – horsetail
Species: Equisetum hyemale L. – scouringrush horsetail
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