Equisetum hyemale, commonly known as rough horsetail, scouring rush, scouringrush horsetail and in South Africa as snake grass, is a perennial herb in the. American Horsetail Commonly known as American Horsetail, the stems are thicker than Equisetum hyemale, plus they are an attractive pink colour when young. The stems are thicker than. Equisetum hyemale, plus they are an attractive pink colour when young. Leave old growth standing through winter, cut down in.

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Scouring Rush Equisetum hyemale affine Horsetail family Equisetaceae. This perennial plant is ‘ tall, producing both equisteum and infertile shoots. The central stem is medium green, olive-green, or dark green, rough in texture, and evergreen.

The individual joints that make up the central stem are up to several inches long; the upper joints are usually shorter than the lower joints. The stem joints have about fine longitudinal ridges.

Except along their upper and lower rims, the sheaths are whitish grey, brown, or black. The lower rims of these sheaths are usually black, while robstum upper rims have tiny black teeth scale-like leaves.

American horsetail (Equisetum robustum)

These teeth are semi-deciduous and they often break off the sheaths with age. The interior cavity of the central stem is quite large, spanning at least two-thirds of its diameter.

The central stem of each fertile shoot terminates in a spore-bearing cone up to 2″ long on a short stalk. This cone is ovoid to broadly ellipsoid in shape, and equisegum has a short narrow point at its apex.

The cone is densely covered with rows of spore-bearing tubercles; it is usually pale yellow or pale reddish yellow. Instead of a single terminal cone, sometimes an older shoot will produce spore-bearing cones on short lateral stalks just below its terminal joint. Infertile shoots are very similar to equusetum shoots, except they lack spore-bearing cones.


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The cones release their spores from late spring to mid-summer; they wither away later in the year. The root system consists of extensive rhizomes with fibrous secondary roots. This plant often forms dense colonies; sometimes these colonies can be quite large in size. The preference is full sun, wet to moist conditions, and soil that is mucky, gravelly, or sandy. However, drier conditions and other kinds of soil are tolerated.

This plant can spread aggressively, especially in locations where the soil is poorly drained. It has few problems with pests and disease organisms. Scouring Rush is a common plant that occurs in every county of Illinois see Distribution Mapwhere it is native. This plant is widely distributed in both North America and Eurasia; the typical variety or subspecies occurs in Eurasia. Habitats include sand dunes, swales in black soil prairies and sand prairies, degraded railroad prairies, low-lying areas along rivers and ponds, marshes, seeps in open wooded areas, roadside ditches, pastures, and gravelly railroad embankments including the gravel ballast.

This plant is usually found in degraded habitats and less often in higher quality natural areas.

Insects that feed on horsetails Equisetum spp. Robuetum larvae of the weevil and sawflies feed on the stems. Because the tough stems of Scouring Rush have coarse fibers and silica deposits, they are usually avoided by mammalian herbivores.

Because of its tall stems and tendency to form robusgum colonies, Scouring Rush provides excellent cover for various kinds of wildlife, including wetland birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

A low-lying area along a pond in Champaign, Illinois, and a drainage ditch near the Windsor Road Prairie of the same city. This is the largest horsetail in Illinois; it is somewhat unusual in having evergreen stems.


Equisetum robustum – Dictionary Definition :

I am always impressed by the large dense colonies that are often formed by the stems of this plant. These tough stems equisetym used to scour pots, pans, and floors during pioneer days, hence the common name.

In spite of this common name, the Scouring Rush Equisetum hyemale affine is not a rush, but a horsetail. The horsetails are closely related to ferns and both were common during the Carboniferous period million years agowhen tree-sized horsetails and ferns occurred.

Scouring Rush (Equisetum hyemale affinis)

The coal deposits of Illinois were formed in large part from the ancestral plants of today’s horsetails and ferns. At the present time, only Equisetum hyemale affine is recognized for North America. However, some local populations of the Scouring Rush resemble Equisetum hyemale robustum or Equisetum robustumwhich was recognized as native to this continent in the past.

This latter variety or species is more tall and stout than Equisetum hyemale affineand the teeth of its sheaths are supposed to be more persistent. The Scouring Rush can be distinguished from other horsetails Equisetum spp. Usually this species is easy to identify, although sometimes it forms sterile hybrids with other horsetails. When this occurs, it is possible to confuse the hybrid with one of the parent species. As a general rule, such hybrids are less evergreen than the Scouring Rush and they are smaller in size.