The Giant Horsetails

Equisetum giganteum L.

E. myriochaetum Schlecht. and Cham.

E. x schaffneri  Milde

Common names:  
árvore de-natal (Brazil), caballo chupa (Ecuador), canutillo, carricillo, cauda de cavalo (Brazil), cauda de eqüina (Brazil), cauda de raposa (Brazil), cavalinha (Brazil), cavalinho gigante, chicote de fraile (Argentina), cola de caballo, cola de caballo agigantada, cola de cavalo (Brazil), cola de iguana, cola de raton, cola grande de caballo, eqüisseto (Brazil), erca de canudo (Brazil), hierba de platero, lija vegetal, limpiaplata, limpia-plata, limpiaplatos, milho de cobra (Brazil), pinheirinho (Brazil), rabo de cavalo, Rabo de zorro, Taikiji kawayu (San Ignaciano, Bolivia), tembladera, tembladora, yerba del platero

Photographs & Illustrations
Plants in the Wild:
(E. giganteum)

(E. giganteum)


(E. myriochaetum)

(E. giganetum)


Plants in Cultivation
Herbarium Specimens

Do you have additional information on giant horsetails?

     "But the most remarkable plant in the forest of Canelos is a gigantic Equisetum , 20 feet high, and the stem nearly as thick as the wrist!...It extends for a distance of a mile on a plain bordering the Pastasa, but elevated some 200 feet above it, where at every few steps one sinks over the knees in black, white, and red mud.  A wood of young larches may give you an idea of its appearance.  I have never seen anything which so much astonished me.  I could almost fancy myself in some primeval forest of Calamites , and if some gigantic Saurian had suddenly appeared, crushing its way among the succulent stems, my surprise could hardly have been increased.  I could find no fruit, so that whether it be terminal, as in E. giganteum , or radical, as in E. fluviatile , is still doubtful, and for this reason I took no specimens at the time, though I shall make a point of gathering it in any state."
(pp. 205-206)

     "The track lay mostly along nearly level ground, with a high cliff to our left, and the Pastaza roaring along its base.  In one part we had to wade for nearly a mile through fetid mud in which grew beds of gigantic horse-tails 18 feet high, and nearly as thick as the wrist at the base"
(p. 157)

     Thus wrote  Richard Spruce 1 (from Notes of a Botanist on the Amazon and Andes , 1908), the celebrated English botanist and "perhaps the greatest botanical explorer of the nineteenth century" ( Moran, 2000 ) , describing his remarkable encounter with giant Equisetum in Ecuador.

1.   More biographical information from Alfred R. Wallace's introduction to "Notes of a Botanist on the Amazon and Andes"


Works Cited & Bibliography
1.   Giant Equisetum References
2.   Related References

Related papers


    If you have any additional information about giant horsetails, I would be most grateful if you could share it with me.  I am especially interested in firsthand observations of these remarkable plants in the wild, in cultivation, or preserved in herbaria.  If you have any observations, pictures, weblinks, or other information relating to these plants (wild or cultivated) and if you would be willing to share your knowledge, please contact me.
   Also, if you have any suggestions or discover any errors in the information presented here, please let me know.  My goal is to make this site as accurate and informative as possible.
If you have any comments or questions, please contact the author, Chad Husby ( or ).  Author's home page:

© Chad E. Husby 2003

Last updated March 19, 2003

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