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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Field Horsetail - Equisetum arvense

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:
C-value: 3

External Links

General Description
Sterile stems annual, dimorphic, 5–70 cm × 1–5 mm with 10 to 12 ridges, hollow, green. Sheaths green with dark teeth. Branches usually ascending; first internode longer than subtending stem sheath. Fertile stems tan, unbranched, shorter than sterile stems, usually apparent only in spring. Strobili 5–40 mm long, blunt (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Equisetum arvense and E. pratense have sterile stems that are similar in appearance. The siliceous tubercles of E. arvense are low and inconspicuous to papillate or smooth, whereas in E. pratense, they are high and conspicuous. The stems of E. arvense are generally thicker as well (Hitchcock et al. 1994).

Species Range
Montana Range


Range Comments
Widespread across the western two-thirds of MT with collections as far east as Phillips and McCone counties; cosmopolitan and throughout most of temperate North America (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 1603

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Moist to wet soil of meadows, forests, stream banks, lake shores at all elevations (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Stoecker, R.E. 1967. A population study of five species of small rodents in the Bridger Mountains of Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 32 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Field Horsetail — Equisetum arvense.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from