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Equisetum fluviatile L.

Water horsetail, swamp horsetail

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionEquisetophytaHorsetails, which date back to the Devonian era
ClassEquisetopsidaHorsetails, spore-bearing plants related to ferns
OrderEquisetalesLiving horsetails (most are extinct)
FamilyEquisetaceaeLiving horsetails
GenusEquisetumFrom equus, horse; and seta, bristle
SpeciesfluviatileLatin for “pertaining to rivers”

About plant names...

Water horsetail is the smoothest of the horsetails. Fluviatile is Latin for “pertaining to rivers,” and this horsetail is common in wet, shallow, marshy areas. Like other horsetails, water horsetails have a remarkably high silica content, making them abrasive enough for scouring or sanding.

Plants: Water horsetails occur in dense colonies, where they may be unbranched or multiply branched. Fertile and sterile stems look the same. They are 14-46" (35-116 cm) tall, with dark green stems ¹/₁₆-¼" (2-8 mm) in diameter. If branches are present, they are less than 3" (7.6 cm) long, with 8 or fewer nodes. Each segment boundary is ringed by a series of tiny, black-tipped scale leaves. The stems of water horsetails are entirely hollow, and smoother than those of marsh horsetails. The stems pull apart easily at the joints.

See Equisetum for a comparison chart.

Leaves: Each stem node is wrapped with tiny, black, sharp-tipped scale leaves. Branch nodes also have miniscule leaves that appear as black dots. The leaves do not perform photosynthesis; this is done by the stem and branches.

Fruits: The spore-bearing, conelike strobili are yellow-green, ⅜-¾" (1-2 cm) long.

Equisetum fluviatile (water horsetail, swamp horsetail)

From Britton, Nathaniel Lord, and Brown, Addison, An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions, 1913, p. Vol. 1: 41

Equisetum fluviatile (water horsetail, swamp horsetail)

By Luc Viatour

References:

Cobb, Boughton, Farnsworth, Elizabeth & Lowe, Cheryl, Peterson Field Guides: A Field Guide to Ferns and Their Related Families of Northwestern and Central North America, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005, p. 342

Online References:

Equisetum fluviatile at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Equisetum fluviatile on Wikipedia

Equisetum fluviatile on

Equisetum fluviatile on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Equisetum fluviatile on

Equisetum fluviatile on eFloras

Equisetum fluviatile L. var. limosum (L.) Gilbert

Equisetum limosum L.

 

Equisetum fluviatile description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 1 Dec 2020.

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Equisetum fluviatile (water horsetail, swamp horsetail)

4/23/2016 · Big Tree/Porcupine Trail, Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, Mass­a­chu­setts ID is uncertain

Equisetum fluviatile (water horsetail, swamp horsetail)

4/23/2016 · Big Tree/Porcupine Trail, Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, Mass­a­chu­setts ID is uncertain

Equisetum fluviatile (water horsetail, swamp horsetail)

5/23/2009 · West Fork of Oak Creek Trail, Ari­zona
≈ 33 × 50" (84 × 126 cm)

Equisetum fluviatile (water horsetail, swamp horsetail)

4/6/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 12 × 12" (29 × 29 cm) ID is uncertain

Equisetum fluviatile (water horsetail, swamp horsetail)

4/7/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 17 × 14" (44 × 35 cm) ID is uncertain

Equisetum fluviatile (water horsetail, swamp horsetail)

9/2/2007 · Ore­gon
≈ 33 × 22" (82 × 55 cm)

Range:

About this map...