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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains

1. Equisetaceae, the Horsetail Family

1. Equisetum L. -- Horsetail, scouring rush

6. Equisetum pratense Ehrh. -- Meadow horsetail


Stems dimorphic, annual, erect. Sterile stem green, branching regularly, 2-5 dm tall, 10- to 18-ridged, the ridges with spicules of silica deposit, especially on the upper portions of the upper internodes; central cavity 1/3 to 1/2 the stem diameter; main stem sheaths 2-6(8) mm long, the teeth free or partly connate in pairs, dark brown with white-hyaline margins, 1-3 mm long. Branches many, simple, spreading, mostly 3-angled; sheaths on the first internodes of the branches with 3 or 4 teeth. Fertile stem initially simple and brownish, eventually greening at the nodes and producing many small green branches, appearing in May before the sterile stems and persisting, mostly 1-3 dm tall; sheaths and their teeth like those of the sterile stems but somewhat longer. Cone terminal, blunt, long-stalked, deciduous. Moist woods and stream banks; uncommon; e ND, ne SD and the Black Hills; (Circumboreal, in N.Amer. s to NJ, PA, SD, ne ID, s Alta. and s B.C.).
GIF- Distribution Map

Map key


Previous Species -- Equisetum palustre L. -- Marsh horsetail
Return to Family -- Equisetaceae - The Horsetail Family
Next Species -- Equisetum sylvaticum L. -- Wood horsetail

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