Equisetum pratense Ehrh.
Meadow horsetails, like other members of the genus, prefer moist habitats such as woods, thickets, river edges, and meadows, in sunlight or partial shade.
Plants: Meadow horsetails have thin light green fragile-looking branches, in symmetric whorls off the main stem, and don’t exceed about 24" (60 cm) in height. Branches tend to be straight, or to droop somewhat, while in other species the branches are ascending. Stems are ¹/₃₂-⅛" (1-4 mm) in diameter, with 8-18 ridges. A cross-section of a sterile stem reveals that up to half the diameter of the stem is hollow, more so than with marsh horsetail. Fertile stems are 8-10" (20-25 cm) tall, and pale pink or brownish at first, tipped by a cone-like sporangia. After fruiting, though, the fertile stems become green and develop branches, looking like the sterile stems. Sterile stems are 8-24" (20-60 cm) tall, and very rough.
See Equisetum for a comparison chart.
Leaves: Tiny, non-photosynthetic leaves called scales are fused to the stem at branch nodes, or sheaths. Sheaths are ¹/₁₆-⅛" (2-6 mm) long, with 8-10 brown, white-edged teeth.
Fruits: Fertile stems are tipped by a single blunt-tipped cone-like strobilus, ½-1½" (1.5-4 cm) long, atop a stalk. Spores are released in April.
Edibility: These aren’t eaten by people, but caribou, moose, grizzly bears, geese, and sheep consume it. (Horses may consume this, but some species of Equisetum are toxic to horses.)
Equisetum pratense at Minnesota Wildflowers
Equisetum pratense on BorealForest.org
Equisetum pratense on www.delta-intkey.com
Equisetum pratense on Earl J.S. Rook's Flora, Fauna, Earth, and Sky ... The Natural History of the Northwoods
Equisetum pratense at the Central Yukon Species Inventory Project
Equisetum pratense on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Equisetum pratense at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Equisetum pratense on Flora of Iceland
Equisetum pratense on SEINet—the Southwest Environmental Information Network
Equisetum on Discover Life
Equisetum pratense on gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org
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. 350
Equisetum pratense description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 23 Aug 2021.