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Equisetum hyemale

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Title: Equisetum hyemale  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Equisetum, Sandpaper, List of Canadian plants by family E, List of native Oregon plants, Invasive plant species
Collection: Equisetum, Fern Species, Ferns of California, Ferns of the United States, Ferns of West Virginia, Flora of Cornwall, Flora of Eastern Canada, Flora of England, Flora of North America, Flora of the Eastern United States, Flora of the Great Lakes Region (North America), Flora of the Western United States, Flora of Western Canada, Garden Plants of Asia, Garden Plants of Europe, Garden Plants of North America, Invasive Plant Species, Invasive Plant Species in Australia, Native Ferns of Ontario, Plants Described in 1753, Plants Used in Traditional Native American Medicine, Pteridophyta of Asia, Pteridophyta of Europe, Pteridophyta of the Americas
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Equisetum hyemale

Scouring rush

Secure  (NatureServe)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Equisetopsida
Order: Equisetales
Family: Equisetaceae
Genus: Equisetum
Species: E. hyemale
Binomial name
Equisetum hyemale

Hippochaete hyemalis (L.) Bruhin

Equisetum hyemale, commonly known as rough horsetail,[1] scouring rush, scouringrush horsetail and in South Africa as snake grass, is a perennial herb in the fern Division Pteridophyta.[2] It is a native plant throughout the Holarctic Kingdom, found in North America, Europe, and northern Asia.


  • Distribution 1
  • Description 2
  • Uses 3
    • Domestic 3.1
    • Medicinal 3.2
    • Cultivation 3.3
      • Invasiveness 3.3.1
  • References 4
  • External links 5


In nature Equisetum hyemale grows in mesic (reliably moist) habitats, often in sandy or gravelly areas. It grows from between sea level to 2,530 metres (8,300 ft) in elevation.[3]

It is primarily found in wetlands, and in riparian zones of rivers and streams where it can withstand seasonal flooding.[3] It is also found around springs and seeps, and can indicate their presence when not flowing. Other habitats include moist forest and woodland openings, lake and pond shores, ditches, and marshes and swamps.

Colony in open woodland, Cap Tourmente, Québec.


Equisetum hyemale has vertical jointed reed-like stalks of medium to dark green. The hollow stems are up to 3 feet (0.91 m) in height. The stems are not branched with conspicuous ridges, impregnated with silica which makes them feel rough and harsh.[4][5][6]

The tiny leaves are joined together around the stem, forming a narrow black-green band or sheath at each joint. Like other ferns and their relatives, the plant reproduces by spores and does not produce flowers or seeds.[4]

The stems are generally deciduous in cold climates, and remain during winter in warmer climates. It forms dense spreading colonies, in full to partial sun.

  • Equisetum hyemale subsp. affine — endemic to North America.[7][8]


Dried plant, used as traditional polishing material in Japan.


The rough stems have been used to scour or clean pots, and used as sandpaper.[9][10]

Boiled and dried Equisetum hyemale is used as traditional polishing material, similar to a fine grit sandpaper, in Japan.


The stems are used to shape the reeds of reed instruments such as clarinets or saxophones.


Some Plateau Indian tribes boiled the stalks to produce a drink used as a diuretic and to treat venereal disease.[11]

It is used as a homeopathic remedy.[4]

Plant's texture in a massed planting.


Equisetum hyemale cultivated as an ornamental plant, for use in contained garden beds and planters, and in pots. It is a popular "icon plant" in contemporary Modernist and Asian style garden design. Its tight verticality fits into narrow planting spaces between walkways and walls, and on small balconies.

It is also used as an accent plant in garden ponds and ornamental pools, and other landscape water features, planted in submerged pots.

The plant is sometimes sold in the nursery trade as "barred horsetail" or "Equisetum japonicum", but is different in appearance than Equisetum ramosissimum var. Japonicum.


The plant spreads very aggressively by underground runners, reaching under/past pavements and garden walls. Root barriers or large sunken planters ease containment in the garden.[4]

The plant is an invasive species of moist natural habitats in South Africa and Australia.[2]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b ."Equisetum "Invasive alien plants—
  3. ^ a b Jepson
  4. ^ a b c d (scouring rush)Equisetum hyemaleLady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Database:
  5. ^ Webb, S.A., Parnell, J. and Doogue, D. 1996. Dundalgan Press (W. Tempest), Dundalk ISBN 0-85221-131-7
  6. ^ (scouring rush)Equisetum hyemaleLady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Database:
  7. ^ Equisetum hyemale subsp. affineJepson Manual treatment for
  8. ^ affine subsp. Equisetum hyemaleCalFlora Database:
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^

External links

  • (scouringrush horsetail)Equisetum hyemaleUSDA Plants Profile:
  • Equisetum hyemaleFlora of North America:
  • (scouring rush)Equisetum hyemaleMissouri Botanical Garden, Kemper Center for Home Gardening —
  • .Equisetum hyemaleFloridata —
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