Herb: Meadow Horsetail
Latin name: Equisetum pratense
Family: Equisetaceae (Horsetail Family)
Medicinal use of Meadow Horsetail:Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Grassy stream banks, up to 900 metres
Edible parts of Meadow Horsetail:Roots - raw or cooked. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. A further report says that the peeled stems, base of the plant, root and tubers were eaten raw by the N. American Indians, the report went on to say that this may be inadvisable.
Propagation of the herb:Spores - best collected as soon as they are ripe in the spring and surface-sown immediately on a sterile compost. Keep moist and pot up as soon as the plants are large enough to handle. Very difficult. Division. The plants usually spread very freely when well sited and should not really need any assistance.
Cultivation of Meadow Horsetail:Grassy stream banks, up to 900 metres
Known hazards of Equisetum pratense:Large quantities of the plant can be toxic. This is because it contains the enzyme thiaminase, a substance that can rob the body of the vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase. The plant also contains equisetic acid - see the notes on medicinal uses for more information.
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.