Director of Intent

April 25, 2009

Why I'm Afraid of Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense L.)

I spent a chunk of the afternoon tackling the plague of field horsetail that decided our back yard was a great place to spawn. Being a desert rat and a biology geek, I grew more and more terrified as I got to know this species that surely sits next to the asparagus fern in Satan's garden.

Here is the score:
  1. It's one of the few remaining descendents of dinosaur-era horsetails, which were the globally dominant plant of its time. Most of Earth's coalbeds were created from the crushed remnants of said family.

    Horsetail + Heat + Pressure + Time + Extraction + Combustion = Global Warming. Evil.

  2. Both the fertile and vegetative stems of field horsetail are partly composed of silica. Settlers supposedly scoured their pans with them.

    Sinister. Like Wolverine's adamantium skeleton, horsetail-embedded SiO2 is good protection against Magneto, disease, pests, and Spencer's bare hands.

  3. Rhizomes.

    How fucking scary is that word? I'm not talking the peaceful and loving rhizomes of ginger or hops here, I'm sayin' these things can thrive six-feet deep. Dig that clever pun.

  4. Tubers.

    Harkening back to Y2K, this thing stores its own food supply for when the shit hits the fan. Interpretation: No matter how many of these I uproot, they will be back.

  5. Spores.

    Each cone on the top of these fertile bastards contains thousands of spores with spring-like appendages that launch them into the air. Imagine if I reproduced like that. On second thought, please don't.

  6. Allelopathy.

    These things produce alkaloids that are released into their immediate environment, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants. Oh, some of the same alkaloids can cause fatal constipation and muscular failure in livestock. I like the lack of warning coloration that these passively aggressive plants exhibit.
Short of dropping incendiary bombs out back, I will be plucking this evil plant for a long time to come. That said, I've got a lot of respect for the bloody thing.