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Is horsetail a scourge?


 
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Gautama
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Joined: 29 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:55 am    Post subject: Is horsetail a scourge? Reply with quote

I've heard a lot about the benefits of horsetail and have considered growing it. But doing some research I get the impression that it's a scourge and should not be planted.
In that case, where can I find it growing? I live in south Dublin. What are its typical habitats?
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Belfast
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

horse tail is a nasty weed cat can take over a garden

or is it
Common Mare's Tail you are looking for
Common Mare's Tail is used In herbal medicine
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_mare%27s_tail

http://www.waterwereld.nu/lidstengeng.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horsetail

saw some grow beside KFC in Blanchardstown

see attached photo

very hard to get rid of

may not be legal to plant

Coping with horsetails

The horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is one of the all time persistent weeds, even more so than the Japanese knotweed.

They are usually attracted to damp spots in the garden and once established soon spread. I must admit I quite like the look of them when they are growing wild; they look a bit like a bottlebrush, which is another name for them.


These plants have been around millions of years longer than the dinosaurs and other than getting a bit smaller remain unchanged. These plants don't flower but like ferns they spread with spores. The established plants also have masses of roots and if one piece is left in the soil then they are back again.

This week I had a telephone call from a woman whose garden was slowly being taken over by Horsetail and I was asked if anything could be done. I do know of some uses for the plant, they are very effective at polishing metal; they were once imported from Holland for that very reason. They are also very good at cleaning wooden spoons, but unless you were going into the pot cleaning business that bit of information is no good to you whatsoever. The plant can be poisonous to livestock if they have too much of it so putting cattle on your lawn is not the best idea either.

I was left with no alternative but to surf the Internet to see if anyone has come up with a solution to the encroaching weed. I was amazed to find the Horsetail is a problem in lots of countries; there are special chat lines about the subject, with no real solutions. There is the suggestion that they can be covered in black polythene for no less than two years. I have tried this but the roots spread to the end of the polythene and new plants emerge.

Spraying can be as unsuccessful as the plants are coated in silica so the weed killer just runs off them, each individual stem has to be crushed for this to be successful. If they are in the lawn they can be cut down regularly, this stops the spores spreading the plant but doesn't get rid of the plant. A flamethrower only kills the top growth too so that would be a waste of time as well.

http://www.gardening.ie/index.php/in-the-garden/all-module-positions/242-horsetails


or is it
Common Mare's Tail you are looking for
Common Mare's Tail is used In herbal medicine
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_mare%27s_tail[img][/img]



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Last edited by Belfast on Wed Sep 23, 2009 5:42 pm; edited 5 times in total
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dinahdabble
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Horsetail grows up here along the roadside. It has several practical uses - scouring pans and floors if you pick clumps - because of its high silica content it used to be sold in bundles for the perpouse, pre-scrubbing brush, scritter days. Funnily enough, it was also used for detecting the presence of gold and silver in an area. Not all areas with horsetail have gold or silver, of course, but sharp eyed folk can tell if there is any in the soil, because of the plants' amaizing ability to mine it's roots down deep, and spread wide in the soil, dragging chunks of minerals, neutrients and water up to the surface, where they can sometimes become visible on the stems and leaves. I use the horse tail for cleaning if I run out of alternative methods. I don't recomend it when young, because it breaks up too much but I recomend it when old and dry.

I haven't found any gold yet.

Unfortunately, it's the horsetails' rampent and irrepresable root system that is it's undoing popularity wise. You think you have got them out, but unless you have actually mined the area you probably won't have, and they will be back, waving and twinkling in the breeze the next year. They do no harm at all if they are planted in very rocky areas, where they are naturaly contained by the lay of the land, and over long periods, even help to bring nutrients to the surface that wash down onto lower land as the plants die back each year.
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