THE GIANT HORSETAIL - Equisetum giganteum

Looking more like an emerging, ground dwelling snake than an actual plant, the giant horsetail - Equisetum giganteum, is (despite its looks) a true plant species, and furthermore, a member of the world's oldest surviving plant family!

The genus Equisetum is now the only living genus of the entire class - Equisetopsida, which has managed to survive on this planet for over one hundred million years! Go back into prehistory, and this genus was far more diverse and dominated the under-story of late Paleozoic forests. In fact, some members of Equisetopsida grew into large trees which were able to reach an impressive height of up to 30 meters tall.

Equisetum giganteum is native to South and Central America, ranging from central Chile east to Brazil and north to southern Mexico.

In our modern era it is one of the largest horsetail species, growing between 2 and 5 metres tall.

The stems are the stoutest of any horsetail, 1–2 cm diameter (up to 3.5 cm diameter in some populations), and bear numerous whorls of very slender branches.

The giant horsetail prefers wet sandy soils, in full sun to semi-shade. Like bamboo, the stalks arise from rhizomes that are deep underground and almost impossible to dig out. Once established, these deep root systems will travel so it is wise to try to put in place some form of subterranean physical constraint otherwise your garden may become over-run with it.

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THE GIANT HORSETAIL - Equisetum giganteum

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