What plant is that?

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Field Horsetail Plant   Field Horsetail Fruiting Body
Photo Credits: © Francis R. Underwood 2012>

This month’s mystery plant is a fern ally. It is not a flowering plant and it reproduces through spores.  It has dimorphic stems, one being sterile and the other fertile and cone bearing.  The leafy sterile stem (left image) is produced first in early spring followed by the separate cone- bearing fertile stem (right image). This fertile stem withers and dies after a few days.  This plant is deciduous and not evergreen.

The leaves are modified and appear as sheaths surrounding the stem at the nodes. The more conspicuous part of the stem is the branches which arise from the sheaths.In this month’s mystery plant the branches are simple and not branched again.

It is these branches that give the plant its “leafy” appearance.  One other identifying characteristic is that the first internode on the branch is longer than the sheath below it. The fertile stem also has sheaths but no branches.  This plant can be found in various habitats, but is most often found in open areas such as fields.  It can also be found along banks, in open woods and sometimes in shallow water.

It’s. . .

Botanical Name:
Equisetum arvense
Common Name:
  Field Horsetail
  Equisetaceae (Horsetail Family)
  Fields and open woods

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