Devonian period where it grew gigantic, up to 100 feet tall. Horsetails were there millions of years before the dinosaurs roamed the Earth and eventually became our thick beds of coal.
The fertile stems that look a little like tan asparagus appear in early spring. Lacking chlorophyll, these spears launch dust-like spores from the cones at the tip, then wither and die back.
…..sterile green stems with whorls of feathery modified leaves at the nodes. These stalks are hollow with ridges at nodes along the stems.
Rub the plant between your fingers you will feel the tough, grainy texture of the silica contained in the tissues. Many campers are familiar with this plant for it has been long used on trails as eco-friendly abrasive pot scrubbers.
Although the perennial is common in North America, I have never seen such an invasion as I have here. Large sections lining pathways, ditches, and roads look like breeding grounds for miniature pine trees. The plant’s rhizome system is extensive both horizontally and vertically up to 5′ or more deep in the soil. If the ground is disturbed, new plants can appear from half inch sections left in the ground. Although a native plant with medicinal benefits, it is classified as invasive. It causes problems in orchards and landscapes, small fruit crops and nurseries, plus fields and pastures where it is toxic to some livestock, causing a condition called equisetosis.
But, on my walks I can’t help but stop and admire one of the oldest plants on the planet that has survived the ages simply because it is almost impossible to eradicate. It is here to stay….