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    Equisetaceae are the sole survivors of a line of plants going back three hundred million years; members of this family gave rise to many of our coal deposits.  Equisetaceae are circumboreal and are widespread through the United States.  In the semi-deserts, foothills, and mountains of the Four Corners they are common near streams and in wet forests and meadows.

     The various Equisetum are commonly called "Horsetails" or "Scouring Rush".

Equisetum hyemale. Synonym: Hippochaete hyemalis. (Scouring Rush)
Equisetaceae (Horsetail Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Streamsides, wetlands. Spring.
Calf Creek Falls Trail, Escalante/Grand Staircase National Monument, Utah, October, 23, 2007.

Equisetum hyemalis grows to over a meter tall and a centimeter thick with numerous vertical ridges (see below).

The high abrasive silica content of this plant makes it useful for scrubbing pots and gave rise to the "Scouring Rush" common name.

Members of Equisetaceae often occur in dense stands in moist areas.

Hippochaete hyemalis

Equisetum hyemale. Synonym: Hippochaete hyemalis. (Scouring Rush)
Equisetaceae (Horsetail Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Streamsides, wetlands. Spring.
Lower Calico Trail, September, 20, 2010.

Equisetum hyemalis is circumboreal and, in fact, the type specimen for this plant was collected in Europe and was named and described by Linnaeus in 1753. The genus name, "Equisetum", is derived from the Latin "equus" for "horse" and "seta" for "bristle".  In 1916 Oliver Farwell reassigned this species to the genus, "Hippochaete"; this name is derived from the Greek words "hipp" ("horse") and "chaete" ("long flowing hair or mane").  The Synthesis of the North American Flora, ultimate authority for all names on this web site, accepts Equisetum hyemale as the correct name for this species. 

"Hyemalis" is Latin for "winter" and is of unknown reference.

Hippochaete hyemalis Hippochaete hyemalis
Equisetum hyemale. Synonym: Hippochaete hyemalis. (Scouring Rush)
Equisetaceae (Horsetail Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Streamsides, wetlands. Spring.
Lower Calico Trail, September, 20, 2010 and Lower Scotch Creek Road, June 25, 2000.

Equisetum hyemalis has a light and then dark band at each stem joint. The spore producing flower cone is pointed at the tip.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color KeySpecies present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Equisetum hyemale