Hardy herbaceous perennial problem weed field mare's horsetail (Equisetum arvense) rhizomes

Field horsetail

Time to act:

Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov

Field horsetail is also known as marestail. Once established, it has roots that extend to 2m deep, and spreads by means of creeping rhizomes. The plant produces light-brown stems in late spring, topped with cone-like structures, and these are followed by light-green shoots up to 60cm in height. The plant spreads among cultivated plants, making for a messy appearance and competing for water and nutrients.


A deep-rooted, herbaceous weed, with tough, light-brown or green shoots that resemble pine needles. It dies back completely in winter.

Find it on

undisturbed ground, cracks in paving, walls, waste ground



Remove rhizomes by digging as deeply as possible. The deep roots of established horsetail colonies will re-grow. Regularly removing the shoots and rhizomes as soon as they appear will weaken the plants, but total eradication requires determination over a number of years. Where horsetail is growing in grass, regular close mowing will cause it to die off, although it may persist in borders at the edge of lawns.


Spray shoots with glyphosate in summer. Tread down the shoots before spraying to bruise and crush them, which will allow the herbicide to enter the plant and be taken down to the roots.


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