Horsetail Plant Information

Overview

The horsetail plant, which is known botanically as Equisetum hyemale, is a perennial plant that is characterized by having segmented, hollow or jointed stems that are a deep green color. The plant has no true leaves, and its stems are between 1/4 to 1/2 inch in thickness. The stems can have clusters of branches or be singular. The horsetail plant is commonly used as an herbal treatment for various afflictions.

Name

The name of the Horsetail plant came about because it was believed that its stalk looked like the tail of a horse. "Equisetum" is extracted from the Latin word for horse, which is "equus." It is also extracted for the Latin word for bristle, which is "seta."

Geography

The horsetail plant appears all over the Northern Hemisphere throughout zones that have temperate climates, including North America, Asia and Europe. They appear in humid climates, often on plains, along railroads or on mountain river shores.

Benefits

The horsetail plant has a lot of medical uses. It is one of the most well-known herbs in terms of weaknesses of the connective tissue and bones. The plant has a high silica content, which the liver can convert into calcium. It is also beneficial for the urinary tract (the bladder and the kidneys). It can also help with weakness and inflammation of the prostate. The horsetail plant can also detoxify the body, help with congestion of the kidneys (since it has diuretic properties) and make the fingernails stronger. Although the horsetail plant has a lot of uses as a herbal treatment, use caution when taking it. It can encourage urination, so when taking horsetail, you must make up for the fluid loss by drinking a lot of water. Horsetail plant also should be avoided by females who are either nursing or pregnant due to lack of clinical safety information.

Cultivation

In general, the horsetail plant grows in grasslands that are moist. Swampy soil is often a favorite of the plant. Despite this fact, the horsetail plant is highly adaptable and grows in many types of different conditions, including particularly dry climates. The plant can adapt easily by its leaf size decreasing, which saves water. Horsetail plant prefers either partial shade or sun.

Properties

The horsetail plant is comprised of the following properties: nicotine, 5 to 7 percent silicic acid, Vitamin C, malic acid, palustrine, potassium salts, beta-sitosterol, palustridine and beta-sitosterol.

Ornamental

The horsetail plant can be grown in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 11. They are popular landscaping plants for homeowners, and are often appreciated due to their exotic appearance that is reminiscent of bamboo.

Keywords: horsetail plant, horsetail herb, equisetum

About this Author

Isabel Prontes is a freelance writer and traveler residing in Manhattan, NY. She has traveled to five continents and counting. Her work has appeared on a number of websites, such as Travels, eHow.com and "Happy Living Magazine." Prontes has a professional background in public relations; she received a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Pace University.