Horsetail - a weed or a healer?
Every spring, among the growing forbs, pale stems stick out in places, like tightly spaced arrows. These are horsetails - plants are mysterious and unusual. Indeed, no one has observed flowers on horsetails; the stems of some species change twice during the season. First, in the spring, arrows with brown tips grow (they are popularly called spearheads), and a month later they are replaced by green Christmas trees that do not dry until late autumn
With its quick reproduction, this gives gardeners a lot of trouble. In addition, it is difficult to fight horsetail: you cannot plow it - the roots are deep, the breakthrough takes a lot of time and also does not completely clear the crops. Nevertheless, these measures and the fruit-man close the weed's access to furrows and ridges. In general, horsetail is an indicator of acidic and waterlogged soils. Liming and draining the plot will help get rid of horsetail.
Horsetail grass, rich in valuable medicinal substances, has long been recognized by medical practice as a diuretic for diseases of the kidneys and bladder, as well as a means of improving blood circulation. Horsetails are treated and old wounds. In this case, use a herbal lotion or baths. With sore throat and gum disease, it is also worthwhile to resort to horsetail infusion: two tablespoons of the grass are kept in a glass of cold water, rinsed mouth or throat with filtered liquid. Field horsetail has also established itself in home cosmetics. Compresses from its infusions and decoctions for strengthening hair, with inflammation of oily and porous skin, are especially beneficial.
For medical purposes, only summer-green horsetail grass is harvested; spore-bearing shooters are not suitable for collection, like all extraneous horsetail species: meadow, forest and swamp. Remember their signs. The horsetail is coarse, hard, its stalks are furrowed, the branches are horizontal or even bent down. At his forest counterpart the branches are also omitted and the stalk is corrugated. The marsh horsetail is tall, its stalk is almost the size of a little finger, and a spore-bearing spikelet can be seen above the erect branches. Horsetail grass feels soft to the touch, tetrahedral sharp twigs directed upward.
Horsetail is dried in the attics or under a canopy. The finished raw material is a mixture of gray-green furrowed stems with twigs. The smell, although weak, but peculiar, the grass tastes sour. In raw materials, they try to prevent crushed stems. Shelf life in a dry room is four years.
We will also talk about the nutritional value of horsetail, the more it is believed that all of them are poisonous. Yes, some horsetails justify the suspicion of toxicity in full, especially for those species that contain alkaloids (for example, swamp). Frequent summer horsetail hay causes paralysis of the hind limbs - “connecting rod”. The disease, by the way, soon ceases if the poisonous food is no longer poisoned. As for the horsetail, of all the bristly counterparts, it is the least dangerous for animals. Indeed, it contains almost no alkaloids, and saponins, as poisonous principles, have very weak effects. In any case, for cows, sheep and goats, this horsetail is not toxic, on the contrary, in some northern areas it is not without reason considered as milk-fed food. Horses are better off not giving this horsetail.
It is interesting that when grazing, cattle almost do not suffer from horsetails, although they are fairly well-recruited in order to quickly restore strength and fatness.
The explanation is simple: other green herbs, as it were, soften the active principles of the poisonous plant, have a laxative effect on the body. Moreover, horsetails are not equally poisonous in all phases, they are most dangerous at the age of young “pines”. Usually, animals easily recognize local poisonous plants and try to get around them, which, unfortunately, cannot be said about imported livestock, especially from territories where the composition of the herbs is completely different. Horsetails are not afraid of spring grazing, they are more depressed by regular summer grazing.
In addition to medicinal and feed value, field horsetail also had some domestic use. Once he smoked dishes with stiff stems, polished wood and stone, and dyed wool in gray-yellow tones using decoction of roots collected in spring. From the stems of the swamp horsetail, popularly nicknamed iron ore, they extracted green paint. In some places, gentle pushers - spikelets - were consumed as vitamin greens. By the way, horsetails are edible and nodules that grow underground, because they are rich in starch.
In historical terms, horsetails are the oldest representatives of terrestrial vegetation. Their distant ancestors were giants, together with powerful ferns they formed deposits of coal. Now, looking at the green stubble of grass, and not imagine the powerful horsetail forests.
© J.F. Gaffard
Horsetails are found on all continents, with the exception of Australia. The species diversity of plants is small - around the world there are 25 species, of which about half are found within our country. Horsetail among the people is reputed as a tree, earth cones, petals, pigsty and streams. The scientific name in translation means "horse tail". The branched grass, indeed, is vaguely reminiscent of a horse's tail, especially when upright branches are lowered downwards ...
Based on materials from agronomist A. Strizhev