Tag Archives: Antarctica

Equisetum sylvaticum

Botanical Name : Equisetum sylvaticum
Family: Equisetaceae
Genus: Equisetum
Species: E. sylvaticum
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Equisetopsida
Order: Equisetales

Common Name : Wood horsetail, Woodland horsetail

Habitat : Equisetum sylvaticum is native to temperate regions of Europe, including Britain, N. America and Asia. It grows on damp woods on acid soils, moors etc.

These horsetails are commonly found in wet or swampy forest, open woodlands, and meadow areas. The plant is an indicator of boreal and cool-temperate climates, and very moist to wet, nitrogen-poor soils.
Description:
Equisetum sylvaticum is a perennial plant. It has erect, hollow stems that grow from 30 to 60 cm in length and from 1-4 mm thick. The branches themselves are compound and delicate, occurring in whorls and drooping downward. There are generally 12 or more branches per whorl. Fertile stems are at first tan-to-brown and unbranched, but later become like the sterile stems, which are more highly branched and green. All the stems have 10-18 spiny vertical ridges that contain silica spicules. The leaves are scales fused into sheaths that cover the stems and branches. These spiny leaves are larger and looser on the fertile stems.

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The fertile stems are shorter than the others; on these develop the cones that bear the spore casings. The leaves develop on the fertile stems and the stems lengthen; then the cones open to release their spores. The cones then drop off. This process takes a few weeks. All the stems may continue to grow until fall and generally die back over winter.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 2. The seeds ripen from Apr to May.

Reproduction:
This plant reproduces by spores, but its primary means of reproduction is done vegetatively by rhizomes. These rhizome systems are deep and extensive, as well as extremely long-lived. These creeping rhizomes occasionally produce tubers, and often outweigh the above-ground growth by 100 to 1.
Cultivation:
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.

Propagation :
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.
Edible Uses:
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.

Medicinal Uses:
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 use. 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.
Other Uses:
Dye; Fungicide; Hair; Sandpaper; Scourer.
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
Known Hazards: 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

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with   your own health care provider.
Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equisetum_sylvaticum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Equisetum+sylvaticum

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Equisetum pratense

Botanical Name : Equisetum pratense
Family: Equisetaceae
Genus: Equisetum
Species: E. pratense
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Equisetopsida
Order: Equisetales

Common Names : Meadow horsetail, Shade horsetail or Shady horsetail

Habitat : Equisetum pratense is native to arctic and temperate regions of Europe, including Britain, N. America, central and northern Asia. It grows on grassy stream banks, up to 900 metres.

Description:
Equisetum pratense is in general a green, bottlebrush-like creeping perennial , growing to 0.6 m (2ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. The seeds ripen in April.

Summery in detail:
It has branching rootstocks, rooted at the nodes. The Arial stems may be annual or Perennial, are cylindrical, fluted, simple or with whorled branches at the jointed nodes. The internodes are usually hollow. The Surfaces of the stems are covered with Silica. The Cones are terminal.

*Stems dimorphic; slender, erect, hollow, and annual. Central canal about 1/6 to 1/3 diameter of the stem.
*Sterile stems to 18″, upright and whitish green; branched, with long, thin, tapering tip and 10-18 minutely roughened ridges. Internodes about 1″ apart.
*Fertile Stems to 15″, upright, brown; initially unbranched, branching and greening up only after cones have disappeared.
*Branches 5″ long, thin and delicate, straight, smoothed, solid, 3-sided, and unbranched; horizontal to drooping; borne in whorls. First branch segment not longer than adjacent stem sheath. *Teeth deltoid, slightly incurving, with thin white margins.
*Leaf Sheaths pale, 2-6 mm long, 2-4.5 mm wide, with 8-10 brown, white-edged teeth, 1.5-4 mm long.
*Rhizomes dull, black, slender, deeply creeping, and branching.
*Roots black, wiry kinky.
*Cones 1″ long, blunt tipped, on very long stalks; at the tips of fertile stem.
*Spore Clusters – in 1 – 2 cm long cone, on long talk at tip of bottlebrush-like shoot (whorled branches may be absent at first), soon fall off

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Notes:
Meadow horsetail is often confused with common horsetail; however, all of meadow horsetail’s shoots are green and have whorls of branches. Only common horsetail has small, brown, unbranched, fertile stems. The sterile stems of meadow horsetail are generally more slender and fragile looking than those of the lengthy of the first branch segment relative to the length of the adjacent stem sheath. The branch segment is shorter than or equal to the stem sheath in meadow horsetail, but longer in common horsetail. Horsetails contain an enzyme (thiaminase) that destroys vitamin B1 (thiamine). In large quantities, they have caused deaths in livestock, though poisoning is quickly reversed by removing horsetails from the diet. Their effect on humans is not completely understood, but raw horsetails can act as a poison. Cooking destroys the thiaminase. Only very small quantities should be taken internally, and people with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems are warned against using horsetail.

Cultivation:
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.

Propagation:
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 difficul. Division. The plants usually spread very freely when well sited and should not really need any assistance.
Edible Uses: Roots – raw or cooked. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. A further report says that the peeled stems, base of the plant, root and tubers were eaten raw by the N. American Indians, the report went on to say that this may be inadvisable.
Medicinal Uses: Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants[238]. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals

Known Hazards :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.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with    your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Equisetum+pratense
http://www.rook.org/earl/bwca/nature/ferns/equisetumpra.html
http://www.borealforest.org/ferns/fern5.htm

Equisetum

Botanical Name:  Equisetum
Family: Equisetaceae
Genus: Equisetum
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Equisetopsida
Order: Equisetales

Synonyms:   Shave-grass. Bottle-brush. Paddock-pipes. Dutch Rushes. Pewterwort.

Common Names:horsetail, snake grass, puzzlegrass, Arvense and  Hyemales

Habitat :The flora of the riverside contains species that trace their lineages back to the Carboniferous or the Age of Amphibians, over 300 million years ago. These plants, known as horsetails or scouring rushes, are members of the genus Equisetum. This genus consists of 25 species and is the only living representative of what was once a large and significant component of the coal age or Carboniferous swamp forests.  They are chiefly distributed in the temperate northern regions: seven of the twenty-five known species are British, the most frequent being Equisetum arvense, E. sylvaticum, E. maximum and E. hyemale. E. arvense, the CORN HORSETAIL, is a very troublesome weed, most difficult to extirpate from cultivated land. Many of the species are very variable. The genus Equisetum is near-cosmopolitan, being absent only from Antarctica.

Description:
They are perennial plants, either herbaceous and dying back in winter as most temperate species, or evergreen as most tropical species and the temperate species rough horsetail (E. hyemale), branched horsetail (E. ramosissimum), dwarf horsetail (E. scirpoides) and variegated horsetail (E. variegatum). They typically grow 0.2-1.5 m tall, though the “giant horsetails” are recorded to grow as high as 2.5 m (northern giant horsetail, E. telmateia), 5 m (southern giant horsetail, E. giganteum) or 8 m (Mexican giant horsetail, E. myriochaetum), and allegedly even more
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Equisetum is a “living fossil” as it is the only living genus of the entire class Equisetopsida, which for over one hundred million years was much more diverse and dominated the understory of late Paleozoic forests. Some Equisetopsida were large trees reaching to 30 meters tall. The genus Calamites of the family Calamitaceae, for example, is abundant in coal deposits from the Carboniferous period.

A superficially similar but entirely unrelated flowering plant genus, mare’s tail (Hippuris), is occasionally misidentified as “horsetail”.

It has been suggested that the pattern of spacing of nodes in horsetails, wherein those toward the apex of the shoot are increasingly close together, inspired John Napier to discover logarithms

In these plants the leaves are greatly reduced and usually non-photosynthetic. They contain a single, non-branching vascular trace, which is the defining feature of microphylls. However, it has recently been recognised that horsetail microphylls are probably not ancestral as in Lycopodiophyta (clubmosses and relatives), but rather derived adaptations, evolved by reduction of megaphylls.    They are, therefore, sometimes actually referred to as megaphylls to reflect this homology.

The leaves of horsetails are arranged in whorls fused into nodal sheaths. The stems are green and photosynthetic, and are distinctive in being hollow, jointed and ridged (with sometimes 3 but usually 6-40 ridges). There may or may not be whorls of branches at the nodes.

Spores:
The spores are borne under sporangiophores in strobili, cone-like structures at the tips of some of the stems. In many species the cone-bearing shoots are unbranched, and in some (e.g. field horsetail, E. arvense) they are non-photosynthetic, produced early in spring separately from photosynthetic, sterile shoots. In some other species (e.g. marsh horsetail, E. palustre) they are very similar to sterile shoots, photosynthetic and with whorls of branches.

Horsetails are mostly homosporous, though in the field horsetail smaller spores give rise to male prothalli. The spores have four elaters that act as moisture-sensitive springs, assisting spore dispersal after the sporangia have split open longitudinally.

Medicinal uses;

The astringent, healing stems check bleeding in wounds, nosebleeds, and heavy menstruation. A strong diuretic for urinary tract and prostate disorders, they also tonify the urinary mucous membranes, can control bed-wetting, and help with skin problems. The other main use is for deep-seated damage in lung disease. Horsetail absorbs gold dissolved in water better than most plants, as much as 4 ounces per ton of fresh stalks. The amount of gold in a cup of horsetail tea is quite small, but small amounts of gold are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and the Chinese used horsetail for this.

Ellingwood suggests the following uses: dropsy, lithaemia, haematuria, gonorrhoea, gleet, irritable bladder, enuresis in children, prostatis, and the ashes for acid dyspepsia. It is often combined with Hydrangea in the treatment of prostate troubles.

This is one of the silica-containing plant drugs where the silica is largely in a water-soluble colloidal form. It is primarily a connective tissue drug, but is also considered a diuretic, though this is true only within limits. The silica is not responsible for a certain diuretic effect, which clearly is not very great and is probably due to saponins. A search has been made for other constituents that might explain the diuretic effect. A close relative of the common horsetail, Equisetum palustre. Animal experiments designed to demonstrate the diuretic properties of the horsetail came up with widely differing results. Some investigators obtained completely negative results, others noted an increase in urinary output by up to 68% in rats, and called the horsetail one of the most powerful diuretics.. Reports on the use of this plant with normal subjects and patients are similarly contradictory. The diuretic effect does not appear to have been very great in this case. Horsetail has the advantage that no harmful effects have been reported.

A more important property of this plants is the general metabolic stimulation it achieves, above all increasing connective tissue resistance. As connective tissues are also involved in rheumatic conditions, this explains the usefulness of the drug in this field. In the use of this plant, emphasis should be placed not so much on the diuretic effect, as has been generally assumed so far, but the antidyscratic and humoral actions. The key indications are therefore more in the metabolic spehre. E.g. edema of the legs tdue to metabolic causes and in many cases of rheumatoid arthritis and arthrosis. Sitz baths with equisetum extract are indicated for functional pelvic disease in women where there is no inflammation such as adnexitis or parametritis, but primarily muscular tensions and changes in muscle tone in the small pelvis that are autonomous in origin.

The silica is relatively easily dissolved out of the herb by making a decoction, 2.0g of the dried herb boiled for three hours in 200ml of water. Extraction is even better if a little sugar is added. The resulting decoction contains 55.5mg of SiO2 and is remarkably stable. Silica greatly accelerates blood coagulation, and horsetail is our best silica drug.
In China, E. hyemale is used mainly to cool fevers and as a remedy for eye inflammations, such as conjunctivitis and corneal disorder
The plant has a long history of medicinal uses, although modern sources include cautions with regard to its use. The European Food Safety Authority issued a report assessing its medicinal uses in 2009. Equisetum telmateia may be a useful source of antioxidants

Known Hazards:Some species of horsetail can be poisonous to grazing animals, including horses. The toxicity appears to be due to thiaminase enzymes, which can cause thiamine deficiency. People have regularly consumed horsetails. The young plants are eaten cooked or raw, but considerable care must be taken. Horsetail is dangerous for individuals with edema. For example, the fertile stems bearing strobili of some species are cooked and eaten like asparagus (a dish called tsukushi) in Japan. The people of ancient Rome would eat meadow horsetail in a similar manner, but they also used it to make tea as well as a thickening powder. Indians of the North American Pacific Northwest eat the young shoots of this plant raw.[18] The plants are used as a dye and give a soft green colour. An extract is often used to provide silica for supplementation. Horsetail was often used by Indians to polish wooden tools. Equisetum species are often used to analyze gold concentrations in an area due to their ability to take up the metal when it is in a solution.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horsetail
http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/conn.river/equisetm.html

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_FGH.htm

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