Horsetail (Equisetum arvense, L.) is also commonly mistakenly referred to as Mare’s-tail, Hippuris vulgaris, which is actually a completely different plant although it looks similar. This may be because being more closely related to ferns it does not appear in the majority of wildflower guides though Mare’s-tail does.
The sterile stems that are seen through the growing season are what are readily recognised as Common Horsetail. These are variable in habit though mainly between 10–50cm tall with jointed segments around 2–5cm long with whorls of side shoots at the segment joints; the main shoot is between 3-5mm wide and the side shoots have a diameter of about 1mm. Some stems can have as many as 20 segments. The fertile stems look quite distinct, off-white, 10–25cm tall and 3–5mm diameter, with 4–8 whorls of brown scale leaves, and an apical brown spore cone 10–40mm long and 4–9mm broad.
Cultural – Common Horsetail occupies areas where little competition exists and can thrive on relatively low nutrients because of its extensive root system. Constantly tilling the soil will reduce the vigour of an infestation and over time can eradicate it. However, unless this process can be done repeatedly and for a considerable period of time cultivation may lead to the plant spreading vegetatively and increase the problem.
Chemical – Chemical control is often the most common and cost-effective method for controlling Common Horsetail. Anyone who has attempted to control this notorious plant will understand how difficult it is to control, so ensuring the right herbicide is applied is essential.
The ALS Contracts Team can be contacted on 01952 898518 or 01952 898519 for enquiries regarding Horsetail (Marestail) Control or email firstname.lastname@example.org