Horse Tail: The Weed of Nightmares

Given the nature of this plant; if left unchecked in your garden and in the extreme it will destroy your house.

As I write this, it is early March and Horse Tail is deep down in the ground abiding its time to burst forth and plague you one more time.

Horsetail common name: Equisetum

Description: Perennial plant with hollow, jointed green stems, and small scale-like leaves.

It looks like a small christmas tree, four to eight inches high.


You will not find anything in your garden that has more history than Horsetail.

As far we can tell, these early Horsetails were 30 meters tall and covered the land for 100 million years. Horsetail was part of the Paleozoic forests about 542 million years ago.

The Equisetum family group are perceive as a ‘living fossils’ as they are the unique living examples of the living fossils.

So, how come Horsetail, has gone from 30 meters tall to being 20-40 cm tall?

The time of the being great trees ended with an era known as Permian- Triassic extinction incident. A crisis know as the “Great Dying”. This was the greatest mass annihilation in the history of the Earth.

The event took place 252 million years ago and it wiped out 90% of species of the time. But not, however Horsetail, which is still going strong.

Soil Type:

I first met this plant on a tennis court where I saw it growing up through the tarmac. This will tell you that HorseTail will grow in a wide variety of soils and non soils, in fact. The plant does favour damp soils in the main.

The plants black stems go down several meters and creep in all directions under ground. The plant is what is called, a gymnosperm, meaning non-flowering. It spreads by casting spores which grow up in spring.

Let me tell you a story:

My neighbor, here in Oxford wanted to extend his house. He could not go upwards, because of height restriction here in the city and he could not go sideways because his house covered all the land that he owed.

However, not to be outdone; he decided to go downwards.

So he dug down, under his house for close to 15 feet. He then stopped and waited for well-nigh a month deciding how to proceed.

It was early summer and when he next went down into his ” cellar’ he saw a small green shoot growing in the soil.

He called me in to identify it and sure enough it was horsetail, just waiting its chance to grow. Been waiting there all those years deep down under his house!


There are none that I know of. Come heat/dry/ice/flood, this plant just keeps on going.

And The Reason You Are Reading This Is: How To Kill It.

The long and the short of it is: you cannot kill Horsetail. However, do not despair because you can control or at least, keep it in check.

What you need is plan and a lot of patients.

Before you start on a plan you must understand the make-up of the plant.

Horsetail has survived so long because of its structure. It has a silica rich layer and very small needles as leaves.

This is how the plant protects itself from outside elements. There is no spray that will kill it out right.

Horse Tail has also made itself poisonous to eat raw, so grazing animals will evade it.

The plant has a very deep and multiplex root system, which makes cultural control methods paltry.

In other words, you cannot dig it out because it goes so deep and the smallest root fragment left will grow into a new plant. So any tillage method will multiply your problem.

If you wish use chemicals, there is a product called “Kurtail”. This is sold by a company that is found on the web: UK phone number 0800 032 6262

There is no chemical or enduring effect on the soil from the treatment. A liter of Kurtail cost £20 plus postage.

I have seen this used and it took three days to destroy the plant. However, the horsetail was back again the following spring, when you will need to spray it again.

Do not waste your money with any other chemical. None of them work, and that excludes “round-up”

Best time to spray Kurtail is the plant is actively growing ( April-October)

Manual Control

Here is my organic killer recipe: I fill an oil can with undiluted vinegar and squirt the vinegar at the bottom of the plant, just where it goes into the ground, so that the plant gets a good drink.

After two days the plant is dead.

I have been doing this on my allotment for seven years and I find that I can control it.I go round the plot every Friday seeking out new growth.

It gets less and less every year.

It is the acid content that makes the vinegar useful as a weed killer. vinegar is a non-selective liquid that can kill any plant that it comes into contact with, so be careful what plant it comes into contact with.

If you wish to use it on other weeds do so because it works very well, however the earlier in Spring you do it the better.

Do not think; once is enough. Keep at it every week to ten days.

When vinegar is used, it is consumed by the plant through the leaves and drawn to its roots before it attacks the weed’s core and kills the weed.

When I make a mixture to spray on weeds: I use the strongest vinegar I can find and add a dash of fairy liquid. I put this into a spray bottle and apply to the weed leaves.

How to Use Horse Tail

First off, do be aware that if eaten raw, Horsetail is poisonous. If you consume a lot of this plant it can cause a loose of vitamin B complex so it is quite toxic. The reason is because Horsetail contains an enzyme called thiaminase, this can cause severe health problems.

That being said: Horsetail (being a herb) is used quite widely as a medical aid.

You can make a tea with it, and that will help:

painful swelling




urinary infections

kidney cleansing

If you have lung problems like:

respiratory problems




cleaning waste that may of built up in your lungs

Drinking the tea also helps if you suffer from such things as: osteoporosis or weak bones.

The list is endless. Also talk to your doctor before starting drinking Horses Tail tea.

You do not have to make your own. You can buy this tea from:

My own experience of using Horses Tail is:

I suffer with bronchitis (the result of working for years on farms and breathing in hay spores)

Knowing about the goodness of Horse Tail, I went to a herbalist and he makes me a mixture up which I drink on a daily. (5 ml three time a day) I have being doing this since 2010.

I can breath easily and it is certainly better than what the doctor would give me; an antibiotic.

If you want to get rich slowly

Horse Tail has very deep roots and goes down to feed on minerals that are unavailable to other plants.

One of these minerals is Gold. However, nobody has every found enough to make it worth while

Source by Richard Haigh