E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Equisetum sylvaticum L.
wood horsetail (woodland horsetail)
Equisetaceae (Horsetail family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #11635)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Equisetum sylvaticum
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Species Information

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Perennial from a smooth rhizome.
10-60 cm tall, 1-4 mm thick, their central cavity 1/2 the stem diameter, regularly and richly branched, the sheaths with 8-18 teeth which remain fused and form 3-4 groups; branches with 3-4 ridges, branched again, the 1st internodes of the main branches longer than the corresponding sheaths.Cone1-3 mm long, rounded at the tip.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Green
Present from Spring to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist to wet forests, meadows, clearings, swamps and bog margins in the montane zone; frequent in BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to MA, PA, WV, OH, MI, WI, SD, WY, MT and WA; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Equisetum sylvaticum

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 927 2205
Slope Gradient (%) 0 6 75
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 10 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
2 5 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BWBS(396), CWH(4), ESSF(235), ICH(325), IDF(12), MS(49), SBPS(25), SBS(766), SWB(22)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant, submontane to subalpine, circumpolar horsetail (transcontinental in North America, but present only in the northern part of the Pacific region). Occurs in continental boreal and cool temperate climates on moist to wet, nitrogen-poor soils. Common, often dominant, in coniferous forests on water-receiving sites with gleysolic and organic soils in the coast -interior ecotone. Occasional on flooded sites, in peat bogs, and on recent burns and clearings. Its occurrence increases with increasing latitude and continentality. An oxylophytic species characteristic of Mor humus forms.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is montane boreal & cool temperate.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Equisetum sylvaticum var. multiramosum (Fernald) Wherry
Equisetum sylvaticum var. pauciramosum Milde
Equisetum sylvaticum var. sylvaticum

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References