i.e., COMMON HORSETAIL (Equisetum arvense) Mature horsetails have a large amount of silica in them, and that makes them extremely hard when dried (Forsyth). That is why the stems were used by cabinetmakers as a fine grade "sandpaper" (Salisbury. 1964), and they served as pot-scourers, too (North). They were ".. .employ'd by artificers for polishing of vessels, handles of tools, and other utensils: it is so hard that it will touch iron itself" (Camden). Many of the names given to it mirror this usage. Gerard, for instance, had Shave-grass, which is "not without cause named Asprelle, if his ruggedness, which is not unknown to women, who scoure their pewter and wooden things of the kitchen therewith". Pewterwort is another of these names, and so is Scouring Rush, used in America (Youngken).
Coles advised his readers that "the young buds are dressed by some like Asparagus, or being boyled are often bestrewed with flouer and fryed to be eaten". Re Asparagus, W Miller gave the name Fox-tailed Asparagus to an "Equisetum maximum". It was used as fodder sometimes, too, and the Blackfoot Indians were reported as using it as autumn and winter forage for horses (Johnston).
Horsetail tea is rich in silicic acid, and is diuretic, so it can be used for urinary problems, including bed-wetting, cystitis, or anuresis (M Evans; Schauenberg & Paris). The tea was used in Russia for all menstrual disorders (Kourennoff), and this same tea can be taken for oedema (Fluck).
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