Herbs & Plants

Equisetum scirpoides

Botanical Name: Equisetum scirpoides
Family: Equisetaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Class: Polypodiopsida
Subclass: Equisetidae
Order: Equisetales
Genus: Equisetum
Subgenus: E. subg. Hippochaete
Species: E. scirpoides

*Hippochaete scirpoides (Michx.)
*Hippochaete scirpoides (Michx.)
*E. hiemale tenellum Liljeb.
*E. reptans Wahlenb.
*E. setaceum Vauch.

Common Names: Dwarf scouring rush or Dwarf horsetail

Habitat: Equisetum scirpoides is native to northern Eurasia and America. It grows in tundra, mossy places, and woods. Stems often partly buried in humus. Part shade, shade; moist woods, peat bogs, shady, mossy wetlands.

Equisetum scirpoides is an evergreen perennial plant growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a slow rate.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.


Dwarf Scouring Rush spreads both by spores and rhizomes, typically seen as numerous clumps in close proximity to each other. There are other species of Equisetum in Minnesota that have no branches, but Equisetum scirpoides is not likely to be confused with them. The slender, curled/twisted stems are unique. Perhaps a more fitting common name is “Medusa’s head”.

Leaves & Stems:
Sterile stems are multiple from the base, evergreen, have no branches, and bend/coil/twist into a contorted tangle. The “leaves” are reduced to a sheath that surrounds the stem, with 3 black/brown teeth around the top that have distinct white edges and persist all season. There is a black band just above the base of the sheath.

Fertile stems are like the sterile stems but distinguished by the cone, less than ¼ inch long, at the tip of the stem. Cones have a sharp-pointed tip, mature in late summer or may over-winter and release spores the following spring.

A Long-lived perennial evergreen with fibrous roots and the smallest living horsetail. Can be used as an aquatic fern. Light requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade. Soil moisture: moist or wet (recommended water depth over crown of plant: 0 – 3cm (0 – 1 inch)). Water quality: pH 5.6-6.5. Useful for winter interest in a small pond, barrel, or tub garden, especially in shady areas. Pond Zone: flood plain – Upland. High marsh – saturated. soil spores shed from July through August, or persisting unopened until the following summer. For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form – tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a runner spreading indefinitely by rhizomes or stolons . Evergreen. The root pattern is rhizomatous with underground stems sending roots and shoots along their length . Not a flowering plant. Reproduces by spores contained within sporangia borne on peltate sporophylls.

Edible Uses:

*Underground stems and roots are eaten raw, with or without lard, and are sometimes put in Indian ice-cream.

*Underground stems and roots are food to some native groups. They are collected in the spring by water, and are sweet and juicy then, much relished as the first fruit of the season.

Medicinal Uses:

*A decoction of the stalks is said to be calcium-rich and and were once considered beneficial as a hair wash, or if taken as a tonic was considered good for fingernails and teeth.

*Ash of Horsetail stems (Equisetum spp.) was used alone or with grease as a poultice on burns or sores.

*Plant decoction was used as a contraceptive, to initiate abortion, to stimulate menstruation and to relieve bladder problems.

*Roots were heated and placed against aching teeth.

*Stems were bruised and used as a poultice for treating blood poisoning and to stop the swelling of eyelids.

*Sterile stalks were used as an astringent to stop the spitting of blood.

Other Uses :
Groundcover: A medium density moderately good groundcover. The coarse green stems are used to scrub pots and clean dishes. Larger horsetails have the ability to absorb heavy metals from soil and are often used in remediation projects involving heavy metal contaminants. Wildlife Benefits: Amphibians, Cover, Fish, Food, Nesting, Waterfowl. Containers. Dynamic Accumulator.

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.


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