Horse’s Tale

Lee Vining, CA

The delicate spikes you see here that look a little like stars strung on a stem is Equisetem, commonly called horsetail. Early settlers knew it as scouring reeds because they used it like a scouring pad to clean pans. They probably didn’t know the plant’s property that caused its utility – a structure partly made of silica, or sand, hence its abrasive characteristics. Equisetem is a “living fossil,” a species present on this planet for more than a hundred million years. Whenever I encounter it or other ancient plants, I am deeply awed to be in the presence of these botanical elders.

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