Horsetail: the herb of nightmares


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

As I write this, it is early March and Horse Tail is deep in the earth waiting for its moment to burst forth and haunt you once again.

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 tall.


You will not find anything in your garden that has more history than the Cola de Caballo.

From what we can tell, these early Horsetails were 30 meters tall and covered the earth for 100 million years. The horsetail was part of the Paleozoic forests about 542 million years ago.

The Equisetum family group is perceived as a “living fossil” as they are the only living examples of living fossils.

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

The time of the great trees ended with an era known as the Permian-Triassic extinction event. A crisis known as the “Great Death”. This was the largest mass annihilation in Earth’s history.

The event took place 252 million years ago and killed 90% of the species of the time. But no, however, the ponytail, which is still going strong.

Floor type:

I first put this plant on a tennis court where I watched it grow through the asphalt. This will tell you that HorseTail will grow in a wide variety of soils and no soils at all. The plant prefers mostly moist soils.

The black stems of the plants descend several meters and creep in all directions underground. The plant is what is called a gymnosperm, which means that it does not flower. It spreads by emitting spores that grow in spring.

Let me tell you a story:

My neighbor here in Oxford wanted to extend his house. He couldn’t go up, because of the height restriction here in the city, and he couldn’t go sideways because his house covered all the land he should have.

However, not to be left behind; she decided to go down.

So he dug under his house about 15 feet. She then stopped and waited almost a month to decide how to proceed.

It was early summer and when he went back down to his “basement” he saw a small green shoot growing from the ground.

He called me to identify it and, sure enough, it was a ponytail, waiting for its opportunity to grow. He’s been waiting all those years in the back of his house!


There are none that I know of. In hot/dry/ice/flood, this plant keeps going.

And the reason you’re reading this is: how to kill him.

Bottom line: you can’t kill Ponytail. However, don’t despair because you can control it or at least keep it under control.

What you need is a plan and many patients.

Before you start with a plan, you need to understand the composition of the plant.

The horsetail has survived this long because of its structure. It has a silica-rich coating and very small leaf-like needles.

This is how the plant protects itself from the external elements. There is no spray that kills it well.

Horsetail has also become poisonous if eaten raw, so grazing animals will avoid it.

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

In other words, you can’t dig it out because it’s too deep and the smallest root fragment left will grow into a new plant. So any tillage method will multiply your problem.

If you want to use chemicals, there is a product called “Kurtail”. Sold by a company found on the web: UK phone number 0800 032 6262

There is no chemical or lasting effect on the soil due to the treatment. A liter of Kurtail was £20 plus postage.

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

Don’t waste your money on any other chemical. None of them work, and that rules out “rounding”.

The best time to spray Kurtail is when the plant is actively growing (April-October)

Manual control

Here’s my killer organic recipe: I fill an oil can with undiluted vinegar and spray the vinegar on the bottom of the plant, right where it goes into the soil, so the plant will drink well.

After two days the plant is dead.

I have been doing this on my plot for seven years and find that I can control it. I walk the plot every Friday in search of new shoots.

It gets less and less every year.

It is the acid content that makes vinegar useful as a herbicide. Vinegar is a non-selective liquid that can kill any plant it comes in contact with, so be careful which plant you come into contact with.

If you want to use it on other weeds go for it because it works great, however the earlier in the spring you do it the better.

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

When vinegar is used, the plant consumes it through its leaves and draws it to its roots before it attacks the core of the weed and kills it.

When I make a mix to spray on weeds: I use the strongest vinegar I can find and add a dash of fairy liquid. I put this in a spray bottle and apply it to the blades of grass.

How to use horsetail

First of all, keep in mind that if eaten raw, horsetail is poisonous. If you consume too much of this plant, it can cause a loss of the vitamin B complex, making it quite toxic. The reason is that horsetail contains an enzyme called thiaminase, which can cause serious health problems.

That being said: horsetail (being an herb) is used quite a bit 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 such as:

respiratory problems
cleaning waste that can accumulate in the lungs

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

The list is endless. Also talk to your doctor before you start drinking horsetail tea.

You don’t have to make your own. You can buy this tea at:

My own experience with using Horses Tail is:

I suffer from bronchitis (a result of working for years on farms and breathing hay spores)

Knowing the benefits of Cola de Caballo, I went to an herbalist and he made me a mixture that I drink daily. (5 ml three times a day) I have been doing this since 2010.

I can breathe 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 feeds on minerals that are not available to other plants.

One of these minerals is gold. However, no one has found enough to make it worthwhile.

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