Looking for "Horsetail Grass"
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Paula Warwick
Posted on: April 23, 2003

I am looking for a wildplant that used to grow on my grandparents farm on the Bruce Penninsula. It was a tall reedy grass that grew in rocky areas. We used to have fun as children pulling apart the stem sections. I think it had a common name like "horsetail grass". I would like to know where I could get seeds or plants to grow.

Sorry for the long delay in replying. I overlooked your inquiry by mistake.

"Horsetail grass" commonly refers to a plant that is not a grass at all: the herb, "horsetail", also known as "shavegrass". This is a medicinal herb about which you can read more in our online catalogue at http://www.richters.com (go to the "H" herbs section after you go to the "Online Catalog" area).

There are many species, both tall and short, and they are not easy to tell apart. At most, we can say that your plant is probably a species of Equisetum.

The plant is somewhat of a botanical oddity in that it reproduces by spores and not by seeds. I have never seen spores offered for sale, probably because the plant is so common in the wild. Occasionally, plants are offered by nurseries, but it is quite unlikely that any would have the exact species that you remember from your grandparents’ farm. More than likely, if you find them at all in a southern Ontario nursery, you will get the common species, E. arvense, which is a smaller species. Your best bet is to return to the farm and dig up some plants for your garden.

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