Marsh Horsetail - Equisetum palustre


Stems 10 to 60 cm tall and 1 to 3 mm wide erect or decumbent, green, slightly rough, with few (only 4 to 8), rounded vertical ridges and prominent unbranched branches in irregular whorls the sheaths loose, grey green with erect black white edged, one ribbed teeth. Cone terminal on main stem (sometimes on side shots) 2 to 3.5 cm.

Similar Species

Field Horsetail E. arvense can be variable and very similar to Marsh Horsetail E. palustre. Both can grow in marshy ground.

E palustre has appressed branch teeth whereas E arvense has spreading teeth; E palustre has lowest branch internode shorter, not longer, than leaf sheath on main stem. The stem of E palustre has central and peripheral hollows the same size wheras E arvense has peripheral hollows much smaller than the central hollow.

Identification difficulty
ID guidance
  • lowest branch internode shorter, not longer, than the leaf sheath on the main stem
  • appressed branch teeth
  • stem with the central and peripheral hollows the same size
Recording advice

The County Recorder requires a specimen for verification


Marshes and wet meadows.

When to see it

June and July

Life History


UK Status

Common throughout Britain.

VC55 Status

Frequent in damp areas in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 167 of the 617 tetrads.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


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

UK Map