EQUISETOS: what are they, characteristics and examples - Summary

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Currently there are no more than 20 species of horsetails in the world and all of them, although very similar, have begun to be valued not only for their antiquity, but also for their ornamental value. Do you dare to add one of these plants to your home or garden? We encourage you to take a look at our list of examples, you may find the species you were looking for. Or, if you simply want to expand your knowledge of botany, do not miss everything you need to know to better understand these primitive plants, as you will find it in this short and simple article by Green Ecologist about what are horsetails, characteristics and examples.

What are horsetails

The equisetos, belong to the family Equisetaceae, which is within one of the large groups of primitive plants, like ferns, which appeared in the Paleozoic. In fact, the genus Equisetum he is the only one within this family. These are distributed throughout the planet, mainly in the temperate zones of the tropics and in the northern hemisphere. Especially in Europe, Asia and North America.

They also belong to the group of the pterodiphytes, which are perennial vascular plants that reproduce by spores. Here you can learn more about Pteridophyte Plants: what they are, types and examples.

These perennial and lively plants are usually found in both land and water environments. Although they prefer moist soils, near river beds and or in flooded areas, they are capable of colonizing deforested areas, former cultivation areas and even grasslands.

Horsetails have an articulated rhizome from which sprout hollow aerial and articulated stems with very different knots and internodes. They even have whorled branches arranged laterally. Microphiles or reduced leaves appear around the nodes of the stems. Due to these long forms, the horsetails plants they are commonly known as horse tail.

These plants have been used throughout history for various purposes. One of them is due to its high silica content, perfect for helping to polish wood and other metals. It also has medicinal properties thanks to various active principles and, in recent years, as ornamental plants due to its curious shape and primitive appearance.

Equisetos characteristics

Apart from what has already been commented, these are the main characteristics of horsetails or horsetails plants:

  • They are plants without flowers that have a hollow and jointed stem.
  • Horsetails have two types of stems, one simple and the other fertile. The fertile is reminiscent of the shape of a long asparagus, hence it is commonly known as horsetail. The infertile stem is the one with ramifications.
  • Horsetails reproduce by spores, as with other primitive plants, such as ferns. However, they can also be propagated by rhizomatic division.
  • Its ripening time is in summer, specifically between the months of June and July.
  • Equisettes have a large root system that extends easily under the ground and provides support and a continuous source of food.

Reproduction of horsetails

Schists reproduce both by means of spores and by division of rhizomes. Therefore, they are plants with a very simple propagation. This happens with plants classified as cryptogams, such as ferns, club mosses or anthocerotes.

The spores of horsetails they are found within small sacs at the apex of fertile stems. Here both female and male spores are produced with a greenish color only visible with the use of a microscope. After the union of both, the so-called female prothalum is created, which once fertilized will give rise to a new adult horsetail.

For its cultivation, it is used the rhizomatic division of horsetails to increase the chances of propagation and optimal plant growth. These do not require much care, only a humid place and rich and clay soils.

Examples of horsetails

There are currently on our planet a total of about 20 species of horsetails. These are divided by their height. Since between species we can find them no more than 20 cm high up to others that reach 5 meters. Here you can find some of the most representative:

Equisetum arvense

Of a shrubby and perennial type, the equisetum arvense has both sterile and fertile rhizomatous stems. The fertile ones are more succulent, although shorter than the sterile ones. They are typical of northern Europe and are usually found near sources or streams of water. It is also used for its medicinal properties to relieve kidney problems or as a natural treatment against hemorrhoids.

Equisetum bogotense

This species of perennial horsetail has articulated stems that easily reach up to 60 cm in height. It prefers very humid soils and is typical of countries like Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela or Argentina. These are used as a diuretic.

Equisetum hyemale

This species of bush-type horsetail is one of the richest in silicon, hence it was used in the past to polish metals. It is typical of America, Europe and Asia. It bears a great resemblance to reeds, since its stem is hollow and articulated, reaching up to almost a meter in height.

Equisetum palustre

Also known colloquially as short beards, it is a natural species from the Eurosiberian region. It can reach up to 60 cm in height and is easy to recognize as it has numerous branches. In fact, it is common to find it associated with other species of horsetails or tree species such as the Populus alba.

Equisetum giganteum

Also known as the silversmith's herb, this species of horsetail is typical of Central and South America and Central America. It can reach up to 5 m in height and is 2 cm in diameter. In addition, they have elongated rhizomes and modified leaves. It is used mainly as an ornamental plant.

Other examples of horsetails

  • Equisetum telmateia
  • Equisetum ramosissimum
  • Equisetum xmoorei
  • Equisetum sylvaticum
  • Equisetum fluviatile

If you want to read more articles similar to Horsetails: what are they, characteristics and examples, we recommend that you enter our Biodiversity category.

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