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Smooth Horsetail, Smooth Scouring Rush - Equisetum laevigatum


Family: Equisetaceae - Horsetail family Genus Common Name: Horsetail Native Status: NativeHorsetail Perennial Herb
Equisetum laevigatum - Smooth Horsetail, Smooth Scouring Rush. The genus name Equisetum comes from the latin words for "horse" and "bristle." Equisetum laevigatum is a fern rather than a flowering plant, but I believe it deserves a place on these pages. It reproduces by spores and and spreads by rhizomes. Found throughout most of the United States except the most northeastern and southeastern states, Smooth Horsetail is Endangered in New York. It is usually found in wet areas, although it may also occasionally be found on drier ground.

Found in:
AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, TX, UT, WA, WI, WY

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Equisetum laevigatum

Distribution of Equisetum laevigatum in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 22 Oct 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Hull's Gulch, Boise Foothills, Ada County, ID Date: 2011-June-21Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The cone at the end of the hollow, cylindrical stem has brown "spots" through which it releases spores. The plant was used by early settlers and native Americans to scour pots and pans, giving Smooth Horsetail the alternate common name of Smooth Scouring Rush. Most of the Smooth Horsetails I encountered on this walk through Hull's Gulch were no more than 2.5' tall, but it reportedly can reach 5' in height.
Equisetum laevigatum

References used for identification and information:
  • http://www.rook.org/earl/bwca/nature/ferns/equisetumhye.html
  • http://www.calflora.net/bloomingplants/smoothscouringrush.html
  • http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/scripts/detail.asp?SpCode=EQULAE
  • http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=EQLA

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer