Equisetum hyemale, the Rough Horsetail, is a large horsetail with attractive black horizontal bands up its length which emphasise the jointed, segmented nature of the stems and give it the appearance of an exotic bamboo. Like all horsetails, it has a very vigourous growing habit and is best planted in a large raised container where its elegant and stylish good looks can be fully appreciated as a specimen without the concern of it spreading throughout the garden. So much unnecessary anxiety and concern over the aggressive nature of the rhizomes of these plants is allieviated if it is planted in a sensible way that prevents that from ever happening. If you are thinking of planting the pot in the ground I would consider planting it within several different sized pots and also creating a root-barrier around the pot. This will give you a margin that can be thinned out, taking care not to leave unwanted roots. Lifting the pots from time to time to root-prune will also keep it from spreading and allow you to cultivate an attractive and dramatic clump. As it develops, it produces interesting and highly attractive brown, pinecone-shaped, spore-producing strobili at the tips of its fertile stems.
Like ferns, Equisetums are pioneering spore-bearing plants that pre-date the flowering plants by millions of years. At one point in its Paleozoic pre-history much of the UK was covered in giant tree-sized horsetails that flourished in a warm carbon dioxide-rich climate that was truly Tropical Britain.
Equisetum hyemale gets its name as Scouring Rush as the silica-rich stems were used for abrasive cleaning of pots and pans. In Japan, it is still boiled and then dried for use in the final polishing process of woodwork to produce an extremely smooth finish, finer than any sandpaper and in Northern Mexico it is commercially harvested for the same purpose.
|Synonyms||Equisetum hyemale var. affine, Equisetum prealtum, Hyppochaete hyemalis|
|Geographical Origin||Europe, Eurasia, Asia, North America|
|Cultivation||Full sun, semi-shade or shade. Prefers damp soil although a dry spot will help to check its vigourous root system. Best as a container specimen|
|Eventual Height||1.5 m|
|Eventual Spread||0.5 m. If you let yours grow wider than this you are asking for trouble !|
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