Equisetum pratense Ehrh. - Meadow Horse-tail

Systematic position.

Family Equisetaceae, genus Equisetum L.

Biological group.

This is a perennial rhizome plant.

Morphology and biology.

The rhizome is entire, black, dull and smooth, with hairs on sheaths, without tubers. Aerial shoots dimorphic, non-wintering. Vegetative shoots 16-50 cm long, 1-3 mm thick, greenish; internodes 2-4 cm. Branches in whorls, rising from upper nodes, spreading to arcuate-recurved, usually unbranched. Strobilus-bearing shoots are pale pink at first, becoming green after spore dispersal, with smooth internodes. Strobili are 20-25 x 4-8 mm; peduncle 20-50 mm, pale. Spores usually disperse in spring.


Europe, the Caucasus, the Altai, Manchuria, North Japan and North America south to 40 degrees N; absent in Greenland and in the greater territory of West Europe.


The species mainly occurs in moist meadows, hay-meadows, and alpine tall-herb communities, at edges of forests, on glades, river banks, mire-margins, wooded pastures, fields. It prefers soils without clay or weak clay soils that are variable in density and acidity.

Economic significance.

This is a weed plant in forest zones among spring and winter crops. Control measures include draining of humid and damp soils by laying drainage or open ditches, deep plowing, liming of acid soils, bringing organic and mineral fertilizers, potash in particular; replacement of strongly littered (by E. pretense) fields with full fallows (vetch-oat and pea-vetch mixture) having increased by 10-15% seeding rate; deep autumn plowing, spring plowing and sowing of early spring cultures; destruction of the Horse-tail stems on uncultivated places (near ditches, railway embankments) by weeding, tilling, stubbling, and mowing.

Reference citations:

Jonsell, B., ed. 2000. Flora Nordica. V. 1. Lycopodiaceae-Polygonaceae. Stockholm: BTJ AB. 344 p.
Keller B.A., ed. 1934. Weed plants of the USSR. V. 1. Leningrad: AN SSSR. 324 p. (In Russian)
Komarov, V.L., ed. 1934. Flora of the USSR. V. 1. Moscow-Leningrad: AN SSSR. 302 p. (In Russian)
Nikitin V.V. 1983. Weed plants of USSR flora. Leningrad: Nauka. 454 p. (In Russian)
Ramenskii L.G., Tsatsenkin I.A., Chizhikov O.N., Antipin N.A. 1956. Ecological evaluation of the fodder lands by vegetation cover. Moscow: Selkhozgiz. 472 p. (In Russian)

© Doronina A.Yu.

Pictures: Oleg Korsun, Zabaikalski Pedagogical University http://www.nature.chita.ru/Plants/Ferns/index.htm

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