Equisetum variegatum (Variegated Scouring Rush)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; shallow water, wet thickets, ditches, bogs|
|Plant height:||6 to 18 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Leaves and stems:
The sterile stem is green and has no branches. The “leaves” are reduced to a sheath that surrounds the stem. At the top of the sheath is a narrow black band and 3 to 12 teeth that are black/brown with distinct white edges. The teeth persist all season. The stem is evergreen and persists through the winter. The central cavity is ¼ to 1/3 the diameter of the stem.
Fertile stems are like the sterile stems but with a ½-inch cone at the tip of the stem. Cones have a sharply pointed tip, mature in late summer or may over-winter and release spores the following spring.
Variegated Scouring Rush is one of three similar, erect, unbranched Equisetum species in Minnesota, the others are Smooth Scouring Rush (E. laevigatum) and Tall Scouring Rush (E. hyemale). Equisetum variegatum can be identified by the distinct, persistent teeth that are black with white edges. These teeth are most similar to Dwarf Scouring Rush (E. scirpoides) but that species is less than 8 inches tall and has curling/twisted stems. E. laevigatum and E. hyemale both have teeth that fall off as the season progresses and lack the white edging. E. variegatum hybridizes with E. laevigatum, producing E. × nelsonii, and with E. hyemale, producing E. × mackaii. There are 2 subspecies of E. variegatum, distinguished by the curvature and coloration of the sheath teeth; subsp. variegatum, with erect teeth and white edging, is the most common and found in Minnesota.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Variegated Scouring Rush plants
- a colony of Variegated Scouring Rush
- wet ditch habitat
- Variegated Scouring Rush and a hybrid?
Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Cook County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?