Horsetail Rush Plants

Updated February 21, 2017

Horsetail rush is a spreading perennial plant that has a reed-like appearance similar to that of bamboo. Horsetail rush is also commonly known as scouring rush. Its scientific name is Equisetum hyemale, and it is part of the Equisetaceae family. The plant is widely distributed throughout Central America, Mexico, the United States' Gulf Coast, Alaska and Canada in low, damp areas within woods and on watersides, shallows, floodplains, swamps and moist hillsides with shade.


Horsetail rush is a durable plant that can attain heights of around 4 feet tall. The plant is noted for its green, furrowed and hollow stems featuring black bands. The evergreen stems are jointed, cylindrical and generally unbranched. The diameter of the stems is approximately 1/3 of an inch. The small leaves cluster together around the plant's stem, and create a slender greenish-black band around all of the joints.


Horsetail rush plants call for either full or filtered sun for successful cultivation. The plants can handle prolonged periods of wet weather, but it is important to make sure that they never become submerged. Soil that is both cool and consistently moist is ideal for growing horsetail rush plants, including the boggy soils of woodlands. Fertilisation is not necessary. The plant spreads via underground rhizomes, and can be propagated easily through the division of the clumps. When grown indoors, the plant thrives when it is immersed in water.

Common Uses

Horsetail rush plants are common ornamental plants in Japanese gardens, particularly on pond edges. However, due to the fact that the plants can turn invasive, it is important to contain the plants within containers. Also, the plant has medicinal and health uses. Native Americans have used the plants traditionally for diuretic purposes. The plants also consists of an abundance of silica; as a result, parts of the stems have been used to polish metal.


Horsetail rush plants contain high amounts of sharp silica crystals. If horsetail rush plants are ingested, life-threatening reactions or pain could occur. It is important to seek immediate medical attention in the case of horsetail rush plant ingestion. This is a particular concern for cattle.

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