The Gardeners Almanac

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Mare's Tail

Common Name: Pipewood


An infestation of Mare's Tail

Mare's Tail, equisetum arvense sometimes known as Pipeweed has been around since pre-historic times with some fossilised remains being found in coal seams.

It is formed from an underground rhizome, and can be found most anywhere, and in all types of soil.

In late spring light brown stems appear, which later are covered in green needle like leaves these are topped off with a cone-like head, it is this head that produces the reproductive spores.

The creeping rhizomes can reach 2m (6ft) or more into the soil.

Once established,these roots are usually too deep to dig out, thus making it difficult to control.

If when digging these roots out the stems breaks off, the part remaining, will readily regrow in the same way as most rhizomous plants do e.g. couch grass.

Chemical control:

Branded chemical controls containing Dichlobenil, Glyphosate, Glufosinate, and / or Ammonium sulphamate will help to eradicate the weed.

A few Do’s and Don’ts when using herbicides:
Non-chemical control:

Digging it out is virtually impossible, as mentioned above as any pieces that are left will regrow.

Having said that reasonable results can be achieved over two or three years if the young shoots are hoed off as they appear.

This tends to weaken the plant and it eventually dies off.

It will also prevent the head maturing and spreading spores!

Mare's Tail has insignificant leaves and does not compete well in shade produced by large leafed plants. eg.Potatoes and Brassicas

Although they can be found in most types of soil they seem to succeed less in very rich fertile soils so improving the soil and constant hoeing may kill it off.

Making the soil a bit more alkaline can also help that is increase the pH to above pH 7.