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(Horsetail family)


This family consists of a single genus, Equisetum, containing 23 species which are of cosmopolitan distribution except in Australasia.

Equisetum spp. (horsetails) contain a thiaminase; the effects of poisoning in animals from ingestion of the plants are similar to those of vitamin B1 deficiency (North 1967). An early report of a skin reaction attributed to the plants (Lohmann 1903/04 cited by Touton 1932, Kulp 1922) has not been obtained for review.

[Summary yet to be added]

Equisetum arvense L.

Under the heading Equisetum arvense, Wren (1975) refers to the styptic and vulnerary properties of unspecified species of horse-tail, as originally described by Dioscorides and Culpeper. Stuart (1979), also acknowledges these properties, asserting that a poultice prepared from Equisetum arvense may be applied externally to aid the healing of wounds.

Equisetum debile

Behl et al. (1966) note that this species is irritating to the skin.

Equisetum limosum

Schwartz et al. (1957) note that this species is irritating to the skin.


  • Stuart M (1979) Reference section. In: Stuart M (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism, pp. 141-283. London: Orbis Publishing [WorldCat]
  • Touton K (1932) Hauterkrankungen durch phanerogamische Pflanzen und ihre Produkte (Toxicodermia et Allergodermia phytogenes) [Skin Diseases Caused by Phanerogamic Plants and their Products (Toxicodermia et Allergodermia phytogenes)]. In: Jadassohn J (Ed.) Handbuch der Haut- und Geschlechtskrankheiten. Band IV, Teil I. Angeborene Anomalien. Lichtdermatosen. Pflanzengifte. Thermische Schädigungen. Einfluss Innerer Störungen auf die Haut [Handbook of Skin and Venereal Diseases. Volume IV, Part I. Congenital abnormalities. Photodermatoses. Plant toxins. Thermal injuries. Influence of internal disorders on the skin], pp. 487-697. Berlin: Julius Springer [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Wren RC (1975) Potter's New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. (Re-edited and enlarged by Wren RW). Bradford, Devon: Health Science Press [WorldCat] [doi] [url] [url-2]
  • [Others yet to be added]

Richard J. Schmidt

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