Large quantities of the plant can be toxic. This is because it contains the enzyme thiaminase
, a substance that can rob the body of the vitamin B complex
. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase
The plant also contains equisetic acid - see the notes on medicinal uses for more information
Strobil (the fertile shoots in spring) - cooked
. An asparagus substitute, though it is neither very palatable nor very nutritious. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
Roots - cooked. A source of starch
. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
The stems can be used for scouring and polishing metal and as a fine sandpaper
. The stems are first bleached by repeated wetting and drying in the sun
. They can also be used as a polish for wooden floors and furniture
The infused stem is an effective fungicide against mildew, mint rust and blackspot on roses. It also makes a good liquid feed. Used as a hair rinse it can eliminate fleas, lice and mites.
A light pink dye is obtained from the stem
Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants
. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals
. The plant is astringent, diuretic and styptic
. The barren stems are used, they are most active when fresh but can also be dried and sometimes the ashes of the pant are used
. The plant is a useful diuretic when taken internally and is used in the treatment of kidney and bladder problems, internal bleeding
. A decoction applied externally will stop the bleeding of wounds and promote healing
Spores - best collected as soon as they are ripe in the spring and surface-sown immediately on a sterile compost. Keep moist and pot up as soon as the plants are large enough to handle. Very difficult
Division. The plants usually spread very freely when well sited and should not really need any assistance.
Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Equisetum sylvaticum. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.
Prefers a moist soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5
Plants are hardy to about -30°c.
Plants have a deep and penetrating root system and can be invasive. If grown in the garden they are best kept in bounds by planting them in a large container which can be sunk into the ground
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
There are no interactions listed for Equisetum sylvaticum. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.
Polycultures & Guilds
There are no polycultures listed which include Equisetum sylvaticum.
This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
Material uses & Functions
Native Climate Zones
Adapted Climate Zones
Native Geographical Range
Root Zone Tendancy
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? 13.013.113.2 Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
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? Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)
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