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Pest Information

Field Horsetail

Field Horsetail

  • Latin Name: Equisetum arvense
  • Common Name: Field Horsetail
  • Other Names: Joint grass, common horsetail, horsetail fern, meadow pine, pine grass, foxtail rush, bottle brush, horse pipes, snake grass

Pest Details

Field Horsetail
Field Horsetail


Native to Europe, but now widespread in the United States and Canada.


In a family of primitive plants, these are perennials that reproduce primarily by creeping rhizomes. Cones produce thousands of spores, and reproduction by spores is far less common. Two kinds of plants – fertile and sterile. Fertile plants grow up as unbranched stalks with a cone at the end, yellowish and about 1 foot tall. Sterile plants are heavily branched, up to 3 feet tall, and extensively jointed on both the stem and the branches. Once spore release occurs in the spring the fertile plants die back, and the sterile plants begin extensive growth. Moist to wet areas are preferred, especially in sandy soils, and horsetails may occur in meadows, ditch banks, swampy areas or waste places. Vegetation generally dies back in the winter.


Mature plants up to 3 feet tall in the sterile plants, with a single main stem and extensive, long branches that grow as whorls around the stem at each joint. Stems and branches are distinctly jointed and are hollow between the joints. Leaves are present only as scales that form a sheath around the stem joints. There are no flowers.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Resistant to most agricultural herbicides. Reproduction primarily by spreading, underground rhizomes that may go as deep as 5 feet.

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