Equisetum pratense Ehrh.

meadow horsetail

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Meadow horsetail is common in the northern United States and Canada. In New England it is absent from southeast, rare in Connecticut and New Hampshire, and scattered in Maine. Meadow horsetail can be distinguised from field horsetail (Equisetum arvense) and other horsetails (Equisetum) by its delicate, feathery, horizontally spreading branches. It has been used as a winter food by the Inupiat Eskimos, who preserved it in seal oil.

Habitat

Forests, meadows and fields, woodlands

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
Stem form
the stem is relatively straight
Branches
there are branches off the main stem, but these branches are not branched
Cone tip shape
The tip of the spore cone is blunt
Sheathes on older stems
the leaf sheathes persist in older stems
Sheath color
the leaf sheath is mainly black
Stem cross-section
up to half of the stem diameter is occupied by the hollow central cavity
Number of stem ridges
8–18
Stem color
the aerial stem color is green
Sheath border color
the border of the leaf sheath has a wide white edge
Length of branch section
the first internode of the branch is equal to or longer than the associated stem sheath
Show All Characteristics
  • Leaves
    Leaf length
    1.5–4 mm
    Leaves per node
    8–18
    Sheath border color
    the border of the leaf sheath has a wide white edge
    Sheath color
    the leaf sheath is mainly black
    Sheathes on older stems
    the leaf sheathes persist in older stems
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • forests
    • meadows or fields
    • woodlands
  • Spores or spore cones
    Cone length
    20–25 mm
    Cone tip shape
    The tip of the spore cone is blunt
    Spore form
    the spores are green and spherical
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branch grooves
    the interior of the grrove is C-shaped
    Branches
    there are branches off the main stem, but these branches are not branched
    How hollow is stem
    17–33
    Length of branch section
    the first internode of the branch is equal to or longer than the associated stem sheath
    Number of stem ridges
    8–18
    Plant height
    160–500 mm
    Stem cavities
    14
    Stem color
    the aerial stem color is green
    Stem cross-section
    up to half of the stem diameter is occupied by the hollow central cavity
    Stem differences
    the vegetative and reproductive stems differ in appearance
    Stem form
    the stem is relatively straight
    Stem texture
    the stem feels fairly to very rough
    Stem thickness
    1–3 mm

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in wetlands, but occasionally in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACW)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Connecticut
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Massachusetts
rare (S-rank: S2), #NAME? (code: #NAME?)
New Hampshire
uncommon (S-rank: S3), W (code: W)
Vermont
uncommon (S-rank: S3)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Equisetum arvense:
leaves with very narrow white margins and a central stem cavity that is ca. 25% of the entire stem diameter (vs. E. pratense, with leaves with relatively broad white margins and a central stem cavity that is 35-50% of the entire stem diameter).

Family

Equisetaceae

Genus

Equisetum

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

5.  Equisetum pratense Ehrh. N

meadow horsetail. CT, MA, ME, NH, VT; not in southeastern New England and scattered in ME. Meadows, woodlands, riparian forests with rich soils.