Donnerstag, 5. Mai 2011

Plant of the Day - (May 5th, 2011) - Equisetum arvense L.

In the first Article of this blog, I've shown you a (sadly unsharp) picture of a brown fertile stalk of Equisteum arvense L. Today I'll dedicated this species a own “Plant of the Day” Article, because during this days the green, sterile stalks have appeared.

Equisteum arvense L. is a member of the Equisetaceae the only remaining family of the class of the Equisetopsida. In English, it's known as “Field Horsetail”, in German as “Ackerschachtelhalm”. It's not a flowering plant, but a spore plant.

E. arvense - sterile stalk

The species has two different looks: The first form are the small brown stalks with the terminal, sporangia-bearing spike. These stalks are between 0,05 and 0,2 metres tall and has no branches.

E. arvense - fertile stalk

The second form is a sterile, green stalk with branches, standing in whorls. The stalk has between 4 and rips, giving the plant a rough-edged feeling. Sometimes the sterile stalks of E. arvense are confused with the stalks of Equisetum palustre L. (“Marsh horsetail”), which looks very similar. The best way to differ these two species is to look for the first internode of the branches. At E. arvense this area is much longer than the sheath of the main stalk; at E. palustre it's shorter.

E. arvense - young, sterile stalks

The species is widespread throughout the whole Northern Hemisphere but also as neophyte in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It likes moist, loamy soils. E. arvense is notorious as weed and can overgrow complete fields but it is also an indicator of dense soils with high water logging and little soil life. So the species can be seen as a warning signal for bad tillage.

 E. arvense - sterile stalk

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