Monday, May 3, 2010


Along the Chehalis Western Trail in Olympia, Washington, I found two versions of Horsetail beginning to grow.

Horsetail is descended from huge, tree-like plants that thrived 400 million years ago during the Paleozoic era. A close relative of the fern, horsetail is a non-flowering weed found throughout parts of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. The plant is a perennial (returns each year) with hollow stems and shoots that look like asparagus at first. As the plant dries, silica crystals that form in the stems and branches look like feathery tails and give the plant a scratching effect. That accounts for its historic use in polishing metal, particularly pewter.

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is an herbal remedy dating back to at least ancient Roman and Greek medicine. It was used traditionally to stop bleeding, heal ulcers and wounds, and treat tuberculosis and kidney problems. The name Equisetum is derived from the Latin roots equus, meaning "horse," and seta, meaning "bristle."

Horsetail contains silicon, which plays a role in strengthening bone. For that reason, it is sometimes suggested as a treatment for osteoporosis. It is also used as a diuretic, and as an ingredient in some cosmetics. However, very few studies have looked at horsetail's effect in humans.

I am told by my Master Gardener friend that Horsetail is evasive and you do not want it in your yard. I think it is rather exotic looking. How about you?

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