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Equisetum sylvaticum - L.

Common Name Wood Horsetail, Woodland horsetail
Family Equisetaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards Large quantities of the plant can be toxic. This is because it contains the enzyme thiaminase[172], a substance that can rob the body of the vitamin B complex[65]. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase[172]. The plant also contains equisetic acid - see the notes on medicinal uses for more information[213].
Habitats Damp woods on acid soils, moors etc[17].
Range Temperate regions of Europe, including Britain, N. America and Asia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade
Equisetum sylvaticum Wood Horsetail, Woodland horsetail


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Equisetum sylvaticum Wood Horsetail, Woodland horsetail
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Summary

Equisetum species - horsetail family are Creeping, perenial, Branching rootstocks, rooted at the nodes. The Arial stems may be annual or Perennial, are cylindrical, fluted, simple or with whorled branches at the jointed nodes. The internodes are usually hollow. The Surfaces of the stems are covered with Silica. The Cones are terminal.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Equisetum sylvaticum is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 2. The seeds ripen from Apr to May. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root;  Stem.
Edible Uses:

Strobil (the fertile shoots in spring) - cooked[177]. An asparagus substitute, though it is neither very palatable nor very nutritious. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Roots - cooked. A source of starch[177]. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses



Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Astringent;  Diuretic;  Haemostatic;  Kidney;  Poultice;  Styptic.

Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants[238]. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals[238]. The plant is astringent, diuretic and styptic[4]. The barren stems are used, they are most active when fresh but can also be dried and sometimes the ashes of the pant are used[4]. The plant is a useful diuretic when taken internally and is used in the treatment of kidney and bladder problems, internal bleeding[4, 257]. A decoction applied externally will stop the bleeding of wounds and promote healing[4, 257].

Other Uses

Dye;  Fungicide;  Hair;  Sandpaper;  Scourer.

The stems can be used for scouring and polishing metal and as a fine sandpaper[4]. The stems are first bleached by repeated wetting and drying in the sun[74]. They can also be used as a polish for wooden floors and furniture[46, 178]. The infused stem is an effective fungicide against mildew, mint rust and blackspot on roses[14]. It also makes a good liquid feed[54]. Used as a hair rinse it can eliminate fleas, lice and mites[213]. A light pink dye is obtained from the stem[99].

Cultivation details

Prefers a moist soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5[200]. Plants are hardy to about -30°c[200]. Plants have a deep and penetrating root system and can be invasive. If grown in the garden they are best kept in bounds by planting them in a large container which can be sunk into the ground[200].

Propagation

Spores - best collected as soon as they are ripe in the spring and surface-sown immediately on a sterile compost. Keep moist and pot up as soon as the plants are large enough to handle. Very difficult[200]. Division. The plants usually spread very freely when well sited and should not really need any assistance.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Equisetum arvenseField Horsetail23
Equisetum fluviatileSwamp Horsetail, Water horsetail22
Equisetum hyemaleDutch Rush, Scouringrush horsetail, Horsetail, Scouring Rush, Rough Horsetail22
Equisetum palustreMarsh Horsetail02
Equisetum pratenseMeadow Horsetail22
Equisetum telmateiaGiant Horsetail11
Equisetum variegatumVariegated Horsetail, Variegated scouringrush, Alaskan scouringrush02

 

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Botanical References

17200

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