Field Horsetail - Equisetum arvense


A rhizomatous plant, it has sterile, green stems 20 to 80 cm, erect or decumbent, slightly rough, with 6 to 18 vertical ridges shallower than in Marsh Horsetail. Branches numerous in regular whorls. Sheaths loose green with erect black teeth lacking obvious white edges. Cones in spring are 1 to 4 cm long and terminal on ivory to pinkish thicker unbranched stems whose sheaths are large and pale brown.

Similar Species

Other horsetails, especially Equisetum palustre and E fluviatile; all can grow in marshy places 

Identification difficulty
ID checklist (your specimen should have all of these features)

If in doubt, cut through the central stem to look at the arrangements of hollows. 

The central hollow of E arvense has a central hollow less than half the size of the peripheral hollows, unlike E palustre, where the central hollow is about the same size as the peripherals.   E fluviatile has a large central hollow, more than three-quarters the width of the stem.


Cultivated land and gardens, waste ground.

When to see it

Fertile cones ripe March to May. Sterile shoots May to October

Life History


UK Status

Very common throughout Britain.

VC55 Status

Very common (sometimes invasive) in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 555 of the 617 tetrads.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map

Species profile

Common names
Common Horsetail, Field Horsetail
Species group:
Ferns & Horsetails
Records on NatureSpot:
First record:
27/05/2000 (MBNHS;Steve Woodward)
Last record:
09/07/2024 (Pugh, Dylan)

Total records by month

% of records within its species group

10km squares with records

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