By Mary Gutierrez
I wrote the brief piece on Equisetum (horsetail) for this issue, I began thinking about plant fads—and
what a sucker I am for most of
them, even in the face of logic.
complain about the feathery Equisetum
arvense that sprouts in
my front yard each spring. I bemoan this weed because it’s impossible to
eradicate (really!). Horsetail has managed to survive for over 300 million
years--so don’t think they’ll be fazed by a squirt of Roundup. It outlasted the dinosaurs
and it's going to give cockroaches a run for it!
how horsetail ties into my musing on plant fads. For the past five years or so,
I’ve been gaga over plants from the family Restionaceae.
Once upon a time in
taxonomic history, horsetails and restios (the term used to refer to plants in
this family) were believed to be related. It’s easy to see why—they look very
won’t mention how much I’ve spent acquiring a few scarce restio specimens—one of which
remains alive. I’ve even gone so far as to order restio seeds from South
Africa, the only part of the world where they are widely indigenous.
while I whine about the horsetail invasion out front, in my backyard greenhouse
I’ve got 50-odd seedlings of various types of restios that will all grow up to
resemble my front yard nemesis. The main difference is—and this is key—restios
are a lot harder to grow. It all boils down to wanting what one
can’t easily have.
When my seedlings get big enough, I’ll trot
them out for the summer and coddle them through the winter and will point them
out to all my garden visitors. One consolation is that I’m not alone in my
fascination with these plants. But I don’t think my fancy was out on the
cutting edge. I’ve just hopped onto another horticultural bandwagon.