Equisetum L. - Horsetails

Photo: BT. Wursten


Description of the genus

Terrestrial perennial plants with creeping subterranean rhizomes, roots borne in whorls at the nodes. Aerial stems erect, green, hollow, jointed, conspicuously ribbed,with whorls of branches at the nodes.the branches themselves also jointed. Leaves reduced to a many-toothed short sheath at each node. Cones (sporangiophores) borne at the ends of the main vegetative stems and rarely the branches too.


Derivation of name:  equus: horse, seta: britle, hair; referring to the horsetail-like appearance of this fern.

Worldwide: c. 15 species, cosmopolitan except Australia



We have 3 taxa in the database for Equisetum.

  • Equisetum hyemale L.
  • Equisetum ramosissimum Desf. ssp. ramosissimum
  • Equisetum telmateia Ehrh.


  • Crouch, N.R., Klopper, R.R., Burrows, J.E. & Burrows, S.M. (2011) Ferns of Southern Africa, A comprehensive guide. Struik Nature.
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta.Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13: 1-222.
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta.Flora Zambesiaca, 0: 1-254.