Equisetum scirpoides

Dwarf Scouring Rush

Dwarf Scouring Rush, Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium and Emmet J. Judziewicz
Dwarf Scouring Rush
Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium
and Emmet J. Judziewicz

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


  • Equisetum, from the Latin, equus, "horse", and seta, "bristle, animal hair"
  • scirpoides, from the Latin, scirpus, "rush, bulrush"
  • Scouring Rush, a reference to its early use for cleaning pots, made possible by its high silica content.
  • Other common names include Dwarf Horsetail, Sedge Horsetail, Prêle Faux-scirpe (Qué), Trådfräken (Swe), Dvergsnelle (Nor), Tråd-Padderok (Dan), Hentokorte (Fin), Dwergholpijp (NL), Himedokusa (Jpn)


  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Equisetophyta, the Horsetails
      • Class Equisetopsida, the Horsetails
        • Order Equisetales, the Horsetails
          • Family Equisetaceae, the Horsetails
            • Genus Equisetum, the Horsetails
            • Subgenus Hippochaete, the Scouring Rushes
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 17151


  • A low, wiry scouring rush of the north and our smallest Horsetail.
  • Stems erect or prostrate, hollow, segmented, rough surfaced, and evergreen; 6"-10" long with 6 ridges. Internodes about 4" apart with segments marked by ashy grey bands. Sterile and fertile stems alike. Twisting and wiry in form; branching rare.
  • Leaf Sheaths tiny, 1-2.5mm×0.75-1.5mm, with three teeth, dark with white margins.
  • Cones usually 1" long with sharp pointed tips, borne on short stalks at the tips of fertile stems.
  • Spores green, spheric.
  • Rootstalk shiny black, creeping, freely branching, and wide spreading.
  • Roots black to very dark brown.


  • Identifiable as a Horsetail by the upright, hollow, jointed, cylindrical stems with inconsequential and easily overlooked leaves.
  • Distinguished from our other Horsetails by its low, slender, wiry, unbranched stems and its small size. This is the smallest living Horsetail.
  • Field Marks
    • diminutive size
    • low, slender, wiry, unbranched stems


  • Circumpolar; Alaska to Newfoundland and Greenland, south to Washington, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, New York, and New England.
  • Northern Eurasia


  • Low wet places in woods, moist shaded hillsides, peat bogs, tundra, watersides, and shallows.






  • Reproduces by spores and vegetatively by rhizomes
  • Primarily reproduces by vegetative means; the majority of shoots arising from rhizomes.


  • By rhizome division


  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
  • Cultural Requirements
    • Sun to shade
    • Constantly moist
    • Fertilization unnecessary
  • Good for bog or rock garden.
  • Will spread slowly, under favorable conditions, to form a dense mat.
  • Available by mail order from specialty suppliers.



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Last Updated on 26 February, 2004