13 October 2008

Plant of the moment: great horsetail

In the far north eastern corner of Brede High Woods and along Goatham Lane on the clay soil there is an extensive colony of the great horsetail (Equisetum telmateia), one of two horsetail species so far recorded on the estate.

20081011 BHW Equisetum telmateia 001

The closely packed whorls of green branches can grow to 2 metres in height and have been described as looking like miniature coal forests.  Along the hedges they make one feel ones eyes are going somewhat out of focus.  The branches are quite harsh in texture and have been used as pot scourers.

The stems too are impressive with their alternate zones of ivory and dark brown.

20081011 BHW Equisetum telmateia 004

This and other horsetails have, like most British plants, been used medicinally for a variety of afflictions.  The herbalist Culpepper said that "it solders together the tops of green wounds"

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