Trying to tame the invasive horsetail

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Photo: Lise Lafond

A warty brown American toad hides behind the leafless spore-bearing stem of a field horsetail plant. This is the fertile first stage of the plant’s life cycle.

The horsetail plant (Equisetum, from the Latin words equus for horse and seta for tail) is one of the oldest plants in the world. The ancestors of today’s horsetail were present during the Carboniferous Period. Much taller during that era, this living fossil was said to attain a height of 30 metres or more and was certainly one of the dominant plants of the prehistoric world.