Field Horsetail Rough Horsetail Field Horsetail Rough Horsetail

What are they?

Horsetails are a primitive group of plants that reproduce by spores, usually produced in cone-like structures at the tips of the stems. They have extensive root systems and their green 'horsetail' shoots with slender leaf sections can often cover large patches of ground.

Where are they found?

Most species occur in damp soils or even in shallow standing water, though Field Horsetail occurs in drier sites and can be a serious weed of agricultural areas.


The varous species can be identified by careful attention to the stem detail, especially at the nodes where the conifer-like leaves emerge in whorls from the stem.

Field Horsetail      Equisetum arvense

Introduced from Europe. An uncommon species of disturbed ground in fields and waste places. Mature spores May to June. Once the species becomes established in an area it can be very hard to eradicate, due to its extensive, deep-rooted, underground rhizomes.
Field Horsetail Field Horsetail Field Horsetail Field Horsetail
Sterile stem
Stem joint
Fertile stem
Fruiting body

Rough Horsetail      Equisetum hyemale

(Scouringrush Horsetail) Native in shady, alluvial soils in North Jersey and along the Delaware River. Probably introduced in Cape May, where it is an uncommon species of rough and disturbed ground. Mature spores April to September. Stems are simple, with no side branches.
Rough Horsetail Rough Horsetail Rough Horsetail
Sterile stem
Stem joint
Fruiting body