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Equisetum hyemale var. affine (Scouring-rush horsetail)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Equisetum hyemale var. affine

Equisetum hyemale L. var. affine (Engelm.) A.A. Eaton

Scouring-rush Horsetail

Equisetaceae (Horsetail Family)

Synonym(s): Equisetum affine, Equisetum hyemale ssp. affine, Equisetum hyemale var. californicum, Equisetum hyemale var. pseudohyemale, Equisetum hyemale var. robustum, Equisetum praealtum, Equisetum robustum, Hippochaete hyemalis, Hippochaete hyemalis ssp. affinis


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), GL (N)

Common Scouring Rush is a spreading, reed-like perennial to 6 ft tall. The evergreen stems are cylindrical, about 1/3 in in diameter, jointed, hollow, usually unbranched, and have rough longitudinal ridges. The tiny leaves are joined together around the stem, forming a narrow black-green band or sheath at each joint. Like other Pteridophytes (ferns and their relatives), Scouring Rush does not produce flowers or seeds.


From the Image Gallery

6 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Whorled
Fruit Type: Cone
Size Notes: Up to about 6 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Notes: Not a flowering plant. Reproduces by spores contained within sporangia borne on peltate sporophylls. Sporulates year-round.


USA: AK , AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: NB , NS , PE
Native Distribution: Throughout the continental U.S.
Native Habitat: In open or wooded areas along streams, on alluvial flats, and on wet ledges; throughout Texas, most common in Blackland Prairies and on the Edwards Plateau. Sand, loam, clay, or limestone; poor drainage okay or in shallow water.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
Soil Description: Occurs in wet places, including pond margins, swamps, floodplains and ditches.
Conditions Comments: Horsetail's smooth, segmented, upright foliage appears striking in a container, pond or landscape setting. It is one of the best dragonfly perches. The plant does not have true fruit, it has interesting cones instead. It is best to contain it in a pot with no holes and be watchful that it doesn't creep over the edge. It is very aggressive.


Use Ornamental: Bog or pond area, Water garden, Erosion control. Often grown in Japanese-style gardens, at the edge of ponds and in the margins of ornamental water gardens.
Use Wildlife: Used as a homeopathic remedy for alleviation of hemmorrhoid symptoms.
Use Other: A dense stand of scouring rush along the margin of an ornamental pool can be very attractive and will exclude weeds.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Deer Resistant: High


Propagation Material: Clump Division , Root Division
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX


Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

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Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Equisetum hyemale var. affine in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Equisetum hyemale var. affine in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Equisetum hyemale var. affine


Record Modified: 2023-03-30
Research By: TWC Staff

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