Horsetails

Alert

Have you seen Horsetails?

Be on the lookout for Horsetails and report it to Biosecurity Queensland. Early detection and reporting are the key elements in controlling Horsetails.

Call us on 13 25 23.

Native to much of the world, including temperate parts of Europe, North America and Asia, the horsetail group includes about 30 different species in the genus Equisetum. Horsetails are serious weeds in many places, and Australia is one of the few countries that is still free of major infestations.

While there are no known wild populations of horsetails in Queensland, they are occasionally grown as garden plants and herbs. Horsetails have the potential to escape cultivation and become a serious pest.

Horsetails is a prohibited invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Equisetum spp.

Other names

  • Candock, scouring-rush

Description

  • Primitive, non-woody, herbaceous plant growing 5-120cm tall (scouring rush horsetail up to 120cm, common horsetail up to 80cm).
  • Many horsetails have the appearance of miniature bamboo.
  • Leaves are greatly reduced, non-photosynthetic, grow in whorls of 6 to 18 on the main shoots, are fused part of length into nodal sheaths.
  • Plant does not flower.
  • Stems are green and photosynthetic, hollow, jointed, ridged, with sometimes 3 but usually 6-40 ridges.
  • Fruiting cones 1-4cm long grow at ends of stems and produce pale-greenish to yellow spores.

Habitat

  • Generally found in moist habitats such as edges of lakes, rivers and creeks, ditches, seepage areas, meadows, pastures, marshes, and wet woodlands.
  • Prefers disturbed areas.

Distribution

  • Recorded only as garden plant to date.

Life cycle

  • Grows from early spring until autumn.
  • Reproduces from spores.

Impacts

Environmental

  • Forms pure stands over extensive areas, mainly in wetlands and low-lying crops.

How it is spread

  • Spreads mostly by vegetative means.

Control

  • Call 13 25 23 if you find a plant you suspect may be horsetails to seek advice on control options.

Legal requirements

  • Horsetails is a prohibited invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
  • The Act requires that all sightings to be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours.
  • By law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risk of Horsetails spreading until they receive advice from an authorised officer.

Further information