West Highland Flora

Variegated Horsetail


Equisetum variegatum

 

Equisetum variegatum

Photo Don Lubin
Ferns of New England
(New England, USA)

Uncommon, in wet ground, both upland and lowland

Stems to c 60 cm high, c 1.5-4 mm diameter.  Cones c 5-7 mm long.

ID: Stems darkish green with two rows of tiny tubercles on each rib, like Dutch Rush and Mackay's Horsetail, but the sheaths have persistent teeth, which are the shape of an equal-sided triangle.  When young these teeth have a hair-point, but this soon falls off.  With Dutch Rush the teeth themselves fall off very early.  As both species are evergreen, if young shoots are present old ones will be there as well, so the sheath-teeth character is always available.  Mackay's Horsetail has triangular sheath-teeth with a long hair-point which remains present until the whole tooth falls off during the winter.

Other features: The cones have a narrow point on top, as in these pictures, and are differently shaped to Dutch Rush cones (see pictures there).  The stems do not have whorls of branches like most Horsetails, but do have the odd long branch from the base, looking like another stem.  Dutch Rush stems are unbranched.  Plant is smaller than Dutch Rush and usually less upright, sometimes sprawling.  Stem has no more than 10 grooves (or sheath teeth), Dutch Rush has well over 10.  Not constricted at the sheaths.  Sheath has a black band below the teeth (except in young stems) and the rest of the sheath below that may be green or orange (note that Dutch Rush can also have orange on the sheaths).

Some stems of Marsh Horsetail can resemble this species in being unbranched or with a long branch from the base, and in having few stem grooves, but they lack the dark green colour and have sheath teeth more narrowly triangular, longer than wide.

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Equisetum variegatum

Photo Don Lubin
Ferns of New England
(New England, USA)


Back to species list