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Field Horsetail

Equisetum arvense

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Plant Profile

Equisetaceae (Horsetail)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Ditches, fields, gardens, grassland, hedgerows, marshes, meadows, riverbanks, roadsides, swamps, wasteland, waterside, wetland, woodland.
Field Horsetail, a common British wild plant, showcases its botanical beauty with graceful fronds that gently sway in the wind. These plants, with their slender, green stems and feathery foliage, bring a touch of natural elegance to the British countryside. They thrive in damp and marshy areas, offering a serene and tranquil sight for those who appreciate the quiet wonders of the UK's diverse flora. With their unspoken charm, Field Horsetails stand as a testament to the silent poetry found in the British wilderness.
Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is not known for producing fruit. It is a non-flowering, spore-producing plant that reproduces through its spore-bearing cones. Therefore, there are no fruits associated with Field Horsetail.
The leaves of Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) are a distinctive feature of this ancient and unique plant. In the United Kingdom, they are known for their slender, hollow, and segmented structure. These green, needle-like leaves form a dense, bottlebrush-like arrangement along the stems, giving Field Horsetail its characteristic appearance. Each segment is rich in silica, providing the leaves with a rough texture. These resilient leaves are an essential part of the plant's ability to adapt and thrive in various environments across the UK, adding to the natural diversity of the British landscape.
Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), commonly found in the UK, is not known for its fragrance. This prehistoric plant, with its segmented stems and needle-like leaves, primarily captures attention through its unique appearance and not its scent. In fact, it is considered odorless and does not contribute to the aromatic bouquet of the British countryside. Instead, its allure lies in its natural beauty, the rustling sound of its stems in the breeze, and the visual appeal it adds to the diverse flora of the UK's landscapes.
Other Names:
Bottlebrush, Cat's Tail, Common Horsetail, Corncob Plant, Foxtail, Horse Pipes, Joint-grass, Mare, Mare's-tail, Meadow-pine, Paddock-pipes, Pewterwort, Pine Grass, Pinetop, Pipe Weed, Puzzle Plant, Scouring Rush, Shave Grass, Snakegrass.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Equisetum arvense, commonly known as field horsetail or common horsetail, is a perennial herbaceous plant that belongs to the Equisetaceae family. It is native to the Northern Hemisphere and is commonly found in Europe, Asia and North America. The plant is known for its distinctive, green, jointed stem, which is rough to the touch due to the presence of silica crystals. It can grow up to 60 centimeters tall and prefers damp, well-drained soils, such as along the edges of fields, ditches, and streams. It has been traditionally used to scour and polish metal and wood, and also has medicinal properties. It has astringent and diuretic properties, and has been traditionally used to treat kidney and bladder problems, and also to help stop bleeding.


Field Horsetail, also known as Equisetum arvense, is a unique and ancient plant species that has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It belongs to the Equisetaceae family, and it is one of the oldest living plants on earth, with fossils dating back to over 350 million years ago.

Appearance and Habitat

Field horsetail is a perennial herb that grows up to 2 feet tall. It has a thin, erect stem that is segmented and jointed, resembling a horse's tail, hence the name "horsetail." The plant has no leaves, but instead, it has thin, scale-like structures that grow in whorls around the stem. Field horsetail prefers damp and marshy soil and is often found in moist meadows, swamps, and along riverbanks.

Medicinal Properties

Field horsetail has been used for its medicinal properties since ancient times. It is known for its diuretic properties, which means that it helps increase urine output, making it useful in treating bladder and kidney problems. It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, making it helpful in treating arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Field horsetail is also used as a natural remedy for respiratory problems like bronchitis and asthma, as well as for digestive issues like ulcers and diarrhea.

Preparation and Dosage

Field horsetail can be used in various forms, including as a tea, tincture, or capsule. To make a tea, add 1-2 teaspoons of dried horsetail to a cup of boiling water and let it steep for 10-15 minutes. Drink 2-3 cups per day. Tinctures can be taken in 1-2 ml doses, three times per day, and capsules can be taken in doses of 300-500 mg, three times per day. However, it is important to note that excessive consumption of field horsetail can lead to toxicity and should be avoided.

Culinary Uses

Field horsetail can also be used in cooking, particularly in Asian cuisine. The young shoots of the plant can be eaten raw or cooked and are said to have a nutty flavor. However, caution must be taken when consuming field horsetail, as some species of the plant contain high levels of the enzyme thiaminase, which can break down thiamine (vitamin B1) in the body, leading to thiamine deficiency.


Field horsetail has been used in traditional medicine for a variety of purposes, including treating wounds and skin infections. The silica content in the plant is believed to help strengthen connective tissues, making it useful in promoting healthy skin, hair, and nails. It is also thought to have antioxidant properties that can help protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals.

In addition to its medicinal and culinary uses, field horsetail has also been used for industrial purposes. The high silica content in the plant makes it useful in the manufacturing of abrasives, as well as in the production of ceramics and glass.

Field horsetail is a hardy and adaptable plant that has the ability to absorb heavy metals and other toxins from the soil. This makes it useful in phytoremediation, a process in which plants are used to clean up contaminated soil.

Despite its many uses, field horsetail should be used with caution, as some species of the plant contain toxic compounds that can be harmful if ingested. It is important to only use field horsetail that has been sourced from a reputable supplier, and to consult with a healthcare provider before using it for medicinal purposes.

Field horsetail has also been studied for its potential anticancer properties. Some studies have shown that the plant contains compounds that can inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells, such as breast cancer and bladder cancer cells. However, more research is needed to determine the efficacy and safety of field horsetail as a cancer treatment.

In traditional Chinese medicine, field horsetail has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including bone fractures, tuberculosis, and hemorrhoids. It is believed to have a cooling effect on the body and to be beneficial for conditions that involve excess heat, such as fever and hot flashes.

Field horsetail is also a popular herb in homeopathy, where it is used to treat conditions such as eczema, urinary tract infections, and menstrual disorders. Homeopathic remedies are highly diluted forms of the herb, which are believed to stimulate the body's natural healing processes.

In addition to its many uses, field horsetail is also a popular ornamental plant, often used in garden landscapes and floral arrangements. Its unique appearance and hardiness make it a popular choice for adding texture and interest to outdoor spaces.

One interesting fact about field horsetail is that it is one of the oldest living plant species on Earth, with fossils dating back over 300 million years. It is also a primitive plant, meaning it has remained relatively unchanged over time and has retained many of the characteristics of early land plants.

Field horsetail is a member of the Equisetaceae family, which includes around 20 species of horsetails. Most horsetails are native to wet areas, such as marshes and swamps, and have a high tolerance for waterlogging. However, field horsetail is adapted to drier environments, such as meadows and fields.

Another interesting feature of field horsetail is its reproductive structure. Unlike most plants, which produce flowers and seeds for reproduction, field horsetail reproduces through spores. These spores are produced in cone-shaped structures that grow at the tips of the plant's stalks.

In some cultures, field horsetail has also been used for spiritual purposes. The Navajo people of North America, for example, use field horsetail in ceremonies to promote spiritual and physical cleansing.

Overall, field horsetail is a fascinating and versatile plant with a rich history of use in traditional medicine, culinary arts, industry, and culture. While further research is needed to fully understand its potential benefits and risks, its unique properties make it a valuable resource for a variety of purposes.


In conclusion, Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is a versatile and fascinating plant with a long and varied history of use. From traditional medicine and culinary arts to industrial applications and ornamental uses, field horsetail has many potential benefits and uses. However, it is important to use caution when using this plant, as some species contain toxic compounds that can be harmful if ingested. Additionally, more research is needed to fully understand its potential benefits and risks. Nonetheless, its unique properties and adaptability make it a valuable resource with potential applications in fields ranging from medicine to phytoremediation.


Field Horsetail filmed in the following locations:
  • Parbold, Lancashire (Leeds and Liverpool Canal): 8th April 2023
  • Capernwray, Lancashire (Lancaster Canal): 28th April 2023
  • Adlington, Lancashire: 17th May 2023 and 15th June 2023

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