Flora of Northern Ireland
Equisetum pratense
© John Wilde
Equisetum pratense
(Map updated: March 2008)

This is a plant which looks like a rather delicate form of E. arvense, (Common Horsetail). It differs from it by having a larger central cavity to the main stem, branches which are mostly triangular in cross-section (not square) and the stem surface being covered by tiny regular bumps like those also found on E. sylvaticum (Wood Horsetail). These bumps are just visible to the naked eye and give the surface a rough feel. It differs from Wood Horsetail by having mostly unbranched branches.

This description applies to the sterile or vegetative shoots produced in the summer. Like the Common Horsetail or the Great Horsetail, this species can also produce separate fertile, cone-bearing shoots in April, but unlike in those two species, these are very rarely produced in Ireland.

This is a localised plant in Ireland with its 'headquarters' in the north-east, especially in the Antrim Glens, but with outlying sites in Co. Fermanagh.

All names: Equisetum pratense Ehrh.