[Ansteorra] Equisetum hyemale aka Scouring Reed

kc wilde mariferch at sbcglobal.net
Wed Apr 14 18:54:49 PDT 2004

Horsetail reed is common enough in Texas to be considered a weed in some areas.  Strangely enough, it's also sold as a bog and pond plant at high-end water garden & pond shops.  It can usually be found at the edge of ponds, lakes, reservoirs and very sluggish rivers.  I've personally seen it at a (now underwater) site in Gonzales, and near a small lake in Buescher State Park, near Bastrop.  I've never seen it west of I-35, but I suppose there could be the odd marshy area here and there.  Anywhere you find a boggy area, stagnant or slow-moving water, check for colonies of this plant.  It looks like very small, slender bamboo, about 12" - 18" high (above the water or bog, that is).  Sometimes it has a fringe of "foliage" ringing each segment -- at which times you can sorta see why they call it "horsetail" as it does kinda resemble a foal's little broom-tail -- but other times there's no fringe, just colonies of damp, green, bamboo-like reeds.  
Or, you can go to a pond store, buy yourself a start, put it in a big bucket of compost and water and start growing your own.  If you want it for polishing purposes, best to look for a wild colony, harvest some for scouring purposes and yank up some roots to start your own colony.
How much you need depends on what you're polishing.  I once saw an enterprising lass wrap thick twine around a fistfull of these reeds, cut to about 5" long, and use it to scrub dishes.  I think it lasted thru the whole sink of dishes, so one good handful of scouring rush (at 12" - 15" long) should give you about 3 good "scouring pads".
BTW, it works for scouring because there's silica in the plant's vascular makeup -- so I guess whatever silica works on, this would work on.

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