Also Known As: Horsetail, Snake grass, Puzzlegrass, Equisetum
Equisetum is the only living genus in the Equisetaceae, a family of vascular plants that reproduce by spores rather than seeds.
Equisetum is a "living fossil", as it is the only living genus of the entire class Equisetopsida, which for over one hundred million years was much more diverse and dominated the understory of late Paleozoic forests. Some Equisetopsida were large trees reaching to 30 meters tall; the genus Calamites of family Calamitaceae for example is abundant in coal deposits from the Carboniferous period.
A superficially similar but entirely unrelated flowering plant genus, mare's tail (Hippuris), is occasionally misidentified and misnamed as "horsetail".
It has been suggested that the pattern of spacing of nodes in horsetails, wherein those toward the apex of the shoot are increasingly close together, inspired Napier to discover logarithms.