Field Horsetail


common horsetail, bottle brush, cornfield horsetail, horsetail fern, meadow pine, pine grass, foxtail-rush, scouring-rush, horse pipes, snake grass, toad pipes, devil's guts

Equisetum arvense

Field horsetail is most often a weed of landscape beds and low-lying areas. Horsetail can survive in turf, but often will not persist with routine mowing. Moisture is always present to sustain horsetail. The spreading root system can be several feet deep and will produce small tubers. Horsetail is a perennial that produces spores instead of seeds. The habit is a primitive looking hollow-jointed stem with whorls of branches. The texture can become very fine when mowed.

  • Crops Affected: turf


    Management of an established population is almost impossible because the root system can penetrate so deeply into the soil. 'Wet feet' is almost always present in a landscape bed with an infestation of horsetail. Horsetail can be very invasive and difficult to remove. Hand weeding is not effective. The high silica content of horsetail can be injurious to horses and cattle (if large quantities are consumed).

    Similar Species

    There are several species of Equisetum that are less likely to be weeds in turf. Scouringrush (Equisetum hyemale) is less common and not usually considered a weed. It can be distinguished from field horsetail because it is usually unbranched and will remain green through the winter.