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Medical disclaimer: always check with a physician before consuming wild plants, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.  Michael Moore also has a glossary of medical terms in his books, and maps in later editions. ) 
# 77
Common Name: Horsetail, Scouring Rush, Shavegrass, Canutillo
Latin Name: Equisetum arvense, E. hyemale, E. laevigatum, E. palustre, E. pratense, E. telmateia, E.  variegatum
Family: Equisetaceae
Native American Name: mep (Washoe)
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=EQAR entire north American continent, except Louisiana, and Florida (Equisetum arvense)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=EQHY entire North American continent, except the far north of Canada. (Equisetum hemale)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=EQLA all lower Canadian Provinces, all states west of the Mississippi R. , except Louisiana, all states north of the Ohio R. including Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, (Equisetum laevigatum)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=EQPA all of Canada except the furthest north, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, N. and S. Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and New England. (Equisetum palustre)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=EQPR all of Canada, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, N. and S. Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and all of New England ( Equisetum pratense)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=EQTE British Columbia, Washtington, Idaho, Oregon, California, Michigan. (Equisetum telmateia)
Photos: Click on latin name after common name
# 77(a)
Commmon Name: Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)
 Appearance and Habitat: Open fields, arabale land , waste places, hedgerows, and roadsides, usually on moist soils.  From Arctic to temperate regions of Europe, including Britain, N. America, and Asia.  Equisetum species – horsetail family are Creeping, perenial, Branching rootstocks, rooted at the nodes. The Arial stems may be annual or Perennial, are cylindrical, fluted, simple or with whorled branches at the jointed nodes. The internodes are usually hollow. The Surfaces of the stems are covered with Silica. The Cones are terminal. Equisetum avense is a Perennial from creeping rhizomes, often forming large colonies; to 2 1/2 ft. Stems hollow, riged, jointed. Sterile stems green, with whorled branches ar nodes; leaves reduced to brownish, papery, toothed sheath around node; sheath with fewer then 14 teeth. Fertile stems brownish to whitish, with large “cone” at tip, formed by spore-producing scales; cone produced in early spring.  A perennial growing to 0.6 m (2ft).  It is hardy to zone 2. The seeds ripen in April. Warnings: Large quantities of the plant can be toxic.  This is because it contains the enzyme thiaminase, a substance that can rob the body of the Vitamin B complex.  In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adeqaate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems.  The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiamnase.  The plant also contains equisetic acid – see notes on medical uses.
Edible Uses: Strobil (the fertile shoots in spring) – cooked and used as an asparagus substitute. They should be used when young but even so it is probably best to change the water, perhaps 3 – 4 times. One report says that they can be eaten raw, they are peeled and the shoot tip is discarded. It is said to be a very tedious operation and they should not be eaten raw in any quantity, see the notes above on toxicity. Some native tribes liked to eat the young vegetative shoots, picked before they had branched out, and would often collect them in great quantity then hold a feast to eat them. The leaf sheaths were peeled off and the stems eaten raw – they were said to be ‘nothing but juice’. Roots – raw. The tuberous growths on the rhizomes are used in the spring. The black nodules attached to the roots are edible. It takes considerable effort to collect these nodules so it is normally only done in times of desperation. However, native peoples would sometimes raid the underground caches of roots collected by lemmings and other rodents in order to obtain these nodules. A further report says that the peeled stems, base of the plant, root and tubers were eaten raw by the N. American Indians, the report went on to say that this may be inadvisable.
Medicinal Uses: Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals. Horsetail is very astringent and makes an excellent clotting agent, staunching wounds, stopping nosebleeds and reducing the coughing up of blood. It helps speed the repair of damaged connective tissue, improving its strength and elasticity. The plant is anodyne, antihaemorrhagic, antiseptic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, galactogogue, haemostatic and vulnerary. The green infertile stems are used, they are most active when fresh but can also be harvested in late summer and dried for later use. Sometimes the ashes of the plant are used. The plant is a useful diuretic when taken internally and is used in the treatment of kidney and bladder problems, cystitis, urethritis, prostate disease and internal bleeding, proving especially useful when there is bleeding in the urinary tract. A decoction applied externally will stop the bleeding of wounds and promote healing. It is especially effective on nose bleeds. A decoction of the herb added to a bath benefits slow-healing sprains and fractures, as well as certain irritable skin conditions such as eczema. The plant contains equisetic acid, which is thought to be identical to aconitic acid. This substance is a potent heart and nerve sedative that is a dangerous poison when taken in high doses. This plant contains irritant substances and should only be used for short periods of time. It is also best only used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh plant. It is used in the treatment of cystitis and other complaints of the urinary system.
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#77(b)
Common Name: Dutch Rush (Equisetum hyemale )
Appearance and Habitat: shady streambanks, to 500 meters.  Temperate regions of Europe, Britain, N. America, and Asia.  Equisetum species – horsetail family are Creeping, perenial, Branching rootstocks, rooted at the nodes. The Arial stems may be annual or Perennial, are cylindrical, fluted, simple or with whorled branches at the jointed nodes. The internodes are usually hollow. The Surfaces of the stems are covered with Silica. The Cones are terminal. A perennial growing to 1 m (3ft 3in). It is hardy to zone 5. The seeds ripen from Jul to August.
Warnings: (Same as above)
Edible Uses: Strobil (the fertile shoots in spring) – cooked. An asparagus substitute. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Roots – dried and then cooked. A source of starch. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. A further report says that the peeled stems, base of the plant, root and tubers were eaten raw by the N. American Indians, the report went on to say that this may be inadvisable
Medicinal Uses: Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals. The plant is anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, haemostatic, hypotensive and styptic. It also has an appetite-stimulating effect. The barren stems are used, they are most active when fresh but can also be dried and sometimes the ashes of the pant are used. The plant is a useful diuretic when taken internally and is used in the treatment of kidney and bladder problems. A decoction applied externally will stop the bleeding of wounds and promote healing. The plant contains polyphenolic flavonoids with bactericidal activity
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#77(c)
Common Name: Marsh Horsetail (Equisetum palustre)
Appearance and Habitat: Bogs, fens, marshes, and wet heaths, woods and meadows throughout Britain ascending to 900 meters.  Temperate regions of Europe, N. America, and Asia.  Equisetum species – horsetail family are Creeping, perenial, Branching rootstocks, rooted at the nodes. The Arial stems may be annual or Perennial, are cylindrical, fluted, simple or with whorled branches at the jointed nodes. The internodes are usually hollow. The Surfaces of the stems are covered with Silica. The Cones are terminal.  A perennial growing to 0.6 m (2ft).  It is hardy to zone 2. The seeds ripen from May to July.
Warnings: (Same as above)
Edible Uses: None known
Medicinal Uses: Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals. Horsetail is very astringent and makes an excellent clotting agent, staunching wounds, stopping nosebleeds and reducing the coughing up of blood. It helps speed the repair of damaged connective tissue, improving its strength and elasticity. An infusion or decoction of the plants has been used in the treatment of constipation, stomach and bowel complaints
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#77(d)
Common Name: Meadow Horsetail (Equisetum pratense )
Appearance and Habitat: Grassy stream bank up to 900 meters. Arctic and temperate regions of Europe, N. America, central and nothern Asia.  Equisetum species – horsetail family are Creeping, perenial, Branching rootstocks, rooted at the nodes. The Arial stems may be annual or Perennial, are cylindrical, fluted, simple or with whorled branches at the jointed nodes. The internodes are usually hollow. The Surfaces of the stems are covered with Silica. The Cones are terminal.  A perennial growing to 0.6 m (2ft).  It is hardy to zone 5. The seeds ripen in April.
Warnings: (Same as above)
Edible Uses: Roots – raw or cooked. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. A further report says that the peeled stems, base of the plant, root and tubers were eaten raw by the N. American Indians, the report went on to say that this may be inadvisable
Medicinal Uses: Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals
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#77(e)
Common Name: Giant Horsetail (Equisetum telmateia)
Appearance and Habitat: Damp shady banks etc. to 350 meters. Found in Europe from Sweden south and east to N. Africa and W. Asia, and N.W.N America.  Equisetum species – horsetail family are Creeping, perenial, Branching rootstocks, rooted at the nodes. The Arial stems may be annual or Perennial, are cylindrical, fluted, simple or with whorled branches at the jointed nodes. The internodes are usually hollow. The Surfaces of the stems are covered with Silica. The Cones are terminal. A perennial growing to 2 m (6ft 7in).  It is hardy to zone 6. It is in flower in March, and the seeds ripen in April.
Warnings:(Same as above)
Edible Uses: Strobil (the fertile shoots in spring) – raw or cooked. The tough outer fibres are peeled off, or can be chewed and then discarded. The vegetative shoots, produced from late spring onwards, were occasionally cleaned of their leaves, sheathing and branches and then eaten by native North American Indians, but only when very young and tightly compacted. Root – cooked
Medicinal Uses: The plant is astringent and diuretic. A decoction has been used to treat ‘stoppage of urine’. A poultice of the rough leaves and stems is applied to cuts and sores
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#77(f)
Common Name: Variegated Horsetail (Equisetum variegatum )
Appearance and Habitat: Dunes, river banks, wet ground on mountains to 480 meters.  Found in Arctic and temperate regions of Europe, N. America, central and northern Asia.  Equisetum species – horsetail family are Creeping, perenial, Branching rootstocks, rooted at the nodes. The Arial stems may be annual or Perennial, are cylindrical, fluted, simple or with whorled branches at the jointed nodes. The internodes are usually hollow. The Surfaces of the stems are covered with Silica. The Cones are terminal.  A perennial growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).  It is hardy to zone 2. The seeds ripen from Jul to August.
Warnings: (Same as above)
Edible Uses: None
Medicinal Uses: Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals. Horsetail is very astringent and makes an excellent clotting agent, staunching wounds, stopping nosebleeds and reducing the coughing up of blood. It helps speed the repair of damaged connective tissue, improving its strength and elasticity. The plant has been used in the treatment of sore eyes.
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(The photos above need an addition which is not covered by PFAF website but is covered by Michael Moore )
Photo: (Equisetum laevigatum ) 
(Also keep in mind that Moore lists western species and the altitude listed for plants on PFAF is suitable for the Central and Eastern U.S. but not for the moutains in the West.  I have seen Horsetail along streams in the mountains of Northern and Central Nevada,  half way up Lamoille Canyon, in the Ruby Mountains at an altitude of 7,000 feet. )
Appearance and Habitat: Horsetail covered the earth as the dominant plant of the Carboniferous Age reaching gigantic size.  The ones today are miniature in comparison.  There are two types, one which is hollow, jointed, and leafless; the other is ferny Horsetail.  The ferny Horsetail is typical of E. arvense and  has many  threadlike leaves in whorls from the  stem joints, and are covered with ridges lengthwise  down them.  They too are hollow except at the stem joints.  What are called the ‘horsetails’ are sterile shoots and in the early spring the fertile shoots and are like asparagus.  The fertile shoots have a pinkish green color and very brittle.  They die back before the main sterile shoots appear.(From this description you can distinguish the edible shoots from the non-edible shoots)  The sterile shoots are for medicinal purposes. The  other type is typified by E. hyemale and has no leaves but only scales around the joints.  It to can has medical uses, but is less soluble as tea.  They are found in stagnant water, bogs, sumps, very slow moving springs and creeks and shady banks.  When not growing in water, they are a reliable method of knowing water is close to the surface.  They are found from sea level to 9,000 feet or higher.
Medicinal Uses: Collect the sterile shoots at ground level.   Bundle them loosely and dry them in a paper bag.  ‘Loosely’ because you don’t want them to mildew.  Be careful not to pick the Horsetail in areas that have been fertilized, as they have a tendency to store nitrates to the point of being toxic.  Horsetail will also collect Selenium if it is present in the soil which is a good thing.  Overall Horsetail is great when it comes to urinary tract disorders, it is a safe diuretic, increasing both the volume and acidity of the urine.  It works best in small frequent doses, a rounded teaspoon of the dry herb in tea three or four times daily until the inflammation has gone away.  As a source of silica it will also aid in blood coagulation and help stop bleeding.  It is useful  for excessive menstruation, intestinal bleeding as a tea and also for external bleeding as a hemostatic. You shouldn’t take large doses for more than several weeks as it can irritate the urinary tract and intestinal mucosa.  It is recommended for lung, kidney or liver infection to drink lots of Horsetail tea.  The silica tends to  strengthen the healing process and makes the regenerated tissues stronger and longer lived. 
 Medicinal Plants Of the Mountain West  by Michael Moore, 1st Edition, page 86-87 , publisher:  Museum of New Mexico Press ; copy right 1979
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 Native Americans used Horsetail to make whistles and used the exterior of the shoots to smooth their arrow shafts. 

(Also Native American Names) Indian Uses Of Native Plants by Edith Murphey, pages 44, 51, published by Meyerbooks, copyright 1990,  ISBN 0-916638-15-4 
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# 78
Common Name: Dogbane, Black Hemp, ” Indian Hemp”, Hemp Dogbane, Lechuguilla, Spreading Dogbane (1)
Latin Name: Apocynum androsaemifolium, A.  cannabinum
Family: Apocynacea
Native American Name: Weha, Wisha, Wana (Shoshone) (2)
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=APAN2  all states except Kansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, South Carolina- all Canada, except for Nova Scotia, and the far north.(Apocynum androsaemifolium)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=APCA all of the 48 states and most of Canada, except the far north. ( Apocynum  cannabinum)
Appearance and Habitat: Open woodland, woodland edges, usually on drier soils in North America.  A perennial growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).  It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower in July. (3)  A 2-5 ft. widely branching, bushy, perennial with opposite, oval leaves and small groups of tiny, pink, bell-shaped flowers near the branch tips. The flowers’ fragrance is reminiscent of lilac. Numerous small pink, nodding, bell-like flowers, fragrant and striped inside with deeper pink. Milky juice exudes from broken stems and leaves. These plants are relatives of the milkweeds. Indian Hemp (A. cannabinum), a slightly smaller species with erect clusters of greenish-white flowers, is also found in fields and is poisonous. Clasping-leaved Dogbane (A. sibiricum), found widely throughout the Northeast in sandy or gravelly habitats such as stream banks, has stalkless or nearly stalkless leaves. (4)  Dogbane is a tidy looking plant, forming one or more greenish-brown stems, one to 3 feet in height.  When the plant is broken te sap is intensely milky.  The smooth leaves grow in wide spaced pairs on thin, but strong, round stems.  The leaves themselves are oval-lanceolate and the small stem attaching the leaves turns red in summer as do the main stems.  The pink-white terminal flower clusters have a distinct drooping appearance.  The seed pods are usually paired and form long thin calipers and also hang downwards.  The roots are smooth and straight, creep underground forming colonies, with the roots  size about   like a large pencil in diameter.  The root may make another plant up to 3 feet away.  Other species in the West are A. cannabinum and A. androsaemifolium.  It is common throughout the mountains from 3,500 feet to 9,000 feet.  Although found in the East in waste places, in the West it inhabits near-wilderness areas, frequent clearings and old trails and roads. (5)  
Warnings: All parts of the plant are poisonous (6)
Edible Uses: None (7)
Medicinal Uses: Spreading dogbane is an unpleasantly bitter stimulant irritant herb that acts on the heart, respiratory and urinary systems, and also on the uterus. It was widely employed by the native North American Indians who used it to treat a wide variety of complaints including headaches, convulsions, earache, heart palpitations, colds, insanity and dizziness. It should be used with great caution, and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner if taking this plant internally. The root contains cymarin, a cardioactive glycoside that is toxic to ruminants. The root is cardiotonic, cathartic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic and expectorant. It has a powerful action in slowing the pulse and also has a very strong action on the vaso-motor system, it is rather an irritant to the mucous membranes though, so some people cannot tolerate it. The juice of the fresh root has been used in the treatment of syphilis. The sap of the plant has been applied externally to get rid of warts. The roots were boiled in water and the water drunk once a week in order to prevent conception. The green fruits were boiled and the decoction used in the treatment of heart and kidney problems and for the treatment of dropsy. This preparation can irritate the intestines and cause unpleasant side-effects. (8)  Collect the roots in the fall after the plant has gone to seed.  Split the roots and dry them in a cheesecloth pocket hung in the shade.   With the exception of the Milkweeds, Dogbane is the only recognized cardiac stimulant  found in the West.  The two types should not be interchanged, A. androsaemifolium is the safer to take and more common than A. cannabinum.  Dogbane must be used with caution, because of the definite toxic potential, but is safe in doses of “00” gel cap or less.  It is a strong diuretic, helpful in cases of cardiac dropsy.  The active ingredients are apocynin, apocynamarin, and traces of cymarin, androsin and several sterols.  It raises blood pressure and strengthens heart beat.  A safe reliable dose is a single “0” cap a day of the powdered root, acting as a mild cardiac tonic, diuretic, an anti-rheumatic.  (9)
Other Uses:  Women of some tribes rolled dogbane stem fibres on their legs to make fine thread, said to be finer and stronger than the best cotton thread. It was used for sewing and for making twine, nets, fabric and bowstrings. (10)  In Death Valley the Shoshones used the hemp fiber for bow string. (11)  It can stimulate hair growth through its vasodilation when applied to the scalp.  A teaspoon of the root is boiled in a cup of water and the tea applied as a final rinse. (12)
Foot Notes:  (1, 5, 9, 12) Medicinal Plants Of the Mountain West  by Michael Moore, 1st Edition, page 70-71 , publisher:  Museum of New Mexico Press ; copy right 1979 
Foot Notes: (2, 11) Indian Uses Of Native Plants by Edith Murphey, page 52, published by Meyerbooks, copyright 1990,  ISBN 0-916638-15-4 
 Reproduced, in part, (as well as previous postings under this title) in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
 
 
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