The difference between horsetail and marsh horsetail

The difference between horsetail and marsh horsetail

Marsh horsetail is poisonous

Marsh horsetail is poisonous in all parts, primarily to grazing animals, but humans can also be seriously poisoned if they eat the herb. Caution is therefore advised when collecting.

also read

  • Difference between field horsetail and marsh horsetail
  • Which horsetail is poisonous?
  • Field horsetail is not poisonous

Marsh horsetail contains two toxins, equisetin and palustrin.

Horsetail, on the other hand, is non-toxic and can even be eaten.

How do you distinguish marsh horsetail from horsetail?

  • Location
  • Sporangia
  • Cones
  • Sprouts
  • Shedding of the lateral branches

As the name suggests, marsh horsetail grows in swampy locations. You should simply avoid these if you want to pick horsetail. Almost all horsetail grows in fields and meadows.

Horsetail does not form flowers, but multiplies via spores that mature in so-called sporangia. In field horsetail, the spores drift out of the ground in front of the characteristic green leaves. When these grow, the shoots have disappeared again. If shoot shoots and green shoots appear at the same time, it is marsh horsetail.

Distinguish without a doubt: The length of the side shoots

There is a little trick that you can use almost certainly to tell if you are looking at non-toxic horsetail or poisonous marsh horsetail.

Check the distance from one leaf shoot to the next and compare this with the length of the side shoots. If the side shoots are longer than the distance in the main shoot, you are dealing with the edible field horsetail. If they are shorter or the same length, it is the poisonous marsh horsetail. Check out this video to see how you can clearly tell the difference between the two:


Other distinguishing features

In horsetail, the sprout axes are long, while they are short in marsh horsetail. Field horsetail also has thicker stems. They are wider than three millimeters, while the stalks of the marsh horsetail are significantly narrower.


Just like the marsh horsetail, other types of horsetail such as winter horsetail, Japanese horsetail, and pond horsetail are poisonous. These varieties should therefore be kept in the garden with caution.