A picture of the Horsetails Weeds

Exotic ornamental killer – Weed of the Month

Horsetails (Equisetum sp) is an ornamental plant that is sold in nurseries around the state. On the alert list for non-native weeds that are a risk to the environment and biodiversity, this plant is also highly toxic to livestock and is this Months MyWeedWatcher App- Weed of the Month.

A picture of the Horsetails Weeds

 

MyWeedWatcher update: March 2017 | Department of Agriculture and Food

Ancient survivors

Horsetails (Equisetum species) is sold as an ornamental, and they are also of interest to people who take the risk of making their own herbal remedies. Sometimes they are used in permaculture or as pond plants.

The erect, jointed stems are of two kinds, vegetative and fertile. Vegetative stems are green and ribbed. They can be a single stem or have whorls of slender leaf-like branches. Fertile stems can be green, white or pale brown, topped by fruiting cones. On both stems the true leaves are reduced to a papery ring around each joint. Once established, the main means of spread is by rhizomes rather than spores.

In a backyard, the worst horsetails can do is smother the area, but if they escape into farmland the consequences are dire. They are toxic to livestock, and in high densities they can reduce crop yield because they produce substances that inhibit the growth of other plants.

In the past, infestations of a horsetail called scouring rush (E. hyemale) have been found in the Perth metropolitan area at nurseries in Bedfordale and the Wanneroo area, and a home garden in Morley. Like all horsetails, this one has a high silica content, and the common name arose from the old practice of using the stems to scrub pots and pans. Several other species, including common horsetail (E. arvense) have been found in the eastern states.

Please report any horsetails seen in the wild, in gardens or at weekend markets. If you have horsetail plants, do not attempt to dispose of them yourself. Please call us for advice as horsetail plants generate readily from fragments. Always take care when ordering plants or seeds via the internet, and never dump any garden rubbish in the bush

A picture of the Horsetails Weeds

 

 Natural Heritage Trust’s Key points on Horsetails

• Prevention and early intervention are the most cost-effective forms of weed control. Horsetails are so invasive and difficult to control that it is very important to prevent them becoming established.

• Horsetails can be spread over long distances by movement of soil containing rhizomes.

• If not controlled, horsetails could become persistent weeds of cultivated land, pastures and roadsides in temperate regions, especially on damp ground.

• If you see a plant that may be a horsetail species, contact your local council or state or territory weed management agency. Do not attempt control on your own. 

Reporting unfamiliar weeds

You can report biosecurity concerns or unfamiliar weeds using MyWeedWatcher or alternatively, contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.