Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Equisetum arvense

Higher Taxonomy
Family: EquisetaceaeView Description 
Habit: Perennial herb from rhizome. Stem: annual to perennial herb, generally erect, of 2 kinds (sterile, fertile) or not; internodes with lengthwise alternating ridges and grooves, hollow except at nodes, branches 0 or whorled, alternate leaves. Leaf: scale-like, whorled, fused into nodal sheath with as many teeth as leaves, generally not green. Sporangia: several on inner surface of peltate scales that are clustered into a terminal cone; spores of 1 kind, spheric, green, unmarked, with 4 strap-like appendages.
Genera In Family: 1 genus, 15 species: worldwide except Australia, New Zealand.
eFlora Treatment Author: Robert E. Preston & Richard L. Hauke
Scientific Editor: Alan R. Smith, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: EquisetumView DescriptionDichotomous Key


Etymology: (Latin: horse, bristle, from roots of Equisetum fluviatile L.)
Equisetum arvense L.
Stem: annual, of 2 kinds. Sterile Stem: 10--60 cm, green; basal internode of branch > subtending sheath; sheath 3--8.5 mm, +- as long as wide, teeth 6--14, 1.5--3.5 mm, dark, often joined but not fused; branch with 3--4 rounded ridges, solid. Fertile Stem: 11--32 cm, unbranched, fleshy, brown, ephemeral; sheath 5--11 mm, > that of sterile stem, teeth 6--10, 3--7.5 mm.
Ecology: Streambanks, wet meadows, springs, other wet, shaded places; Elevation: < 3050 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW (exc NCoRH), CaR, SN (exc Teh), GV, CCo, SnFrB, SCoRO, SW (exc ChI), MP, SNE, DMoj (exc DMtns); Distribution Outside California: North America, Europe, Asia.
Jepson eFlora Author: Robert E. Preston & Richard L. Hauke
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

Previous taxon: Equisetum
Next taxon: Equisetum ×ferrissii

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Botanical illustration including Equisetum arvense

botanical illustration including Equisetum arvense


Citation for this treatment: Robert E. Preston & Richard L. Hauke 2012, Equisetum arvense, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on August 17, 2022.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2022, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on August 17, 2022.

Equisetum arvense
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© 2010 Keir Morse
Equisetum arvense
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© 2016 Keir Morse
Equisetum arvense
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© 2013 Neal Kramer
Equisetum arvense
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© 2008 Keir Morse
Equisetum arvense var. alpestre
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© 2009 California Academy of Sciences
Equisetum arvense
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© 2020 Neal Kramer

More photos of Equisetum arvense in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Equisetum arvense:
NW (exc NCoRH), CaR, SN (exc Teh), GV, CCo, SnFrB, SCoRO, SW (exc ChI), MP, SNE, DMoj (exc DMtns)
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).