En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - January 16, 2012

From: Los Angeles, CA
Region: California
Topic: Invasive Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Horsetail Rush invasive in Santa Monica CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants: I live about 3 miles from the beach in the Santa Monica area and have an 18inch deep planter area in my backyard that is adjacent to my garage. I like the look of horsetail rush. I see it used often in planters adjacent to buildings and think it would work but am concerned if it's roots are aggressive. Any input would be appreciated.

ANSWER:

There are 11 members of the genus Equisetum, horsetail, native to North America, of which 5 are native to California. Since they all have similar habits, we will use Equisetum hyemale (scouring horsetail) as an example. According to this USDA Plant Profile map, it is native not only to Los Angeles County, but also to every state in North America, Alaska and provinces in Canada, as well as Greenland, so we can be assured that it will thrive in your area. But that really wasn't what you wanted to know; you were asking if it could be aggressive, so we'll look a little further for that.

We already know that this is a moist places, standing water plant, and is considered definitely invasive in those spots. But we thought that perhaps being planted in a planter would minimize the danger of that. However, before you make a decision, you should read the comments in this Dave's Garden forum on Horsetail scouring rush. It is not a pretty picture.

You can get more information from this article on Equisetum hyemale by Earl J. S. Rook, including the fact that it spreads both by rhizomes and by spores.  This sounds like if the right hand don't get you, the left hand will. From the comments we saw, you probably are not too safe thinking you will just give it a try, and see how it does, because apparently, once you have it, you HAVE it.

Generally speaking, we feel that the best way to control invasive plants is to never plant them.

 

From the Image Gallery


Scouringrush horsetail
Equisetum hyemale

Scouringrush horsetail
Equisetum hyemale

Scouringrush horsetail
Equisetum hyemale

More Invasive Plants Questions

Invasives species experiment from Fairfax VA
May 09, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have some friends that need an experiment on Invasive Species fast. They are in 11th grade at Robinson secondary school. Are you able to help? Its due in June and they don'...
view the full question and answer

Problems with recently planted trumpet vine from Worcester MA
October 20, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about my recently planted Trumpet Vines. First of all, I live in Massachusetts, zone 6. The soil is perfect for the two vines, which I bought from a local nur...
view the full question and answer

Japanese honeysuckle invading a backyard habitat in Austin
April 29, 2010 - It has been a few weeks since we have been to our backyard (it is a place in need of desperate attention, but we have been re-landscaping the front yard first). When we went out today to start plannin...
view the full question and answer

Skunk cabbage from Amsterdam NY
May 02, 2012 - Will skunk cabbage grow under a mobile home and cause odor?
view the full question and answer

Plant native Lantana urticoides and not non-native
March 09, 2015 - San Antonio Water System does not want to assist invasive plants but we want to encourage Lantana sp but we need to know what Lantana camara hybrids are sterile
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center