Jump to navigation Jump to search
Equisetum spp. (horsetail)


A nonflowering, grass-like plant of the genus Equisetum, such as Equisetum hyemale, found in wet, swampy soil. In medieval times, horsetail was imported from Holland. It was called Dutch rush and used for cleaning pots and burnishing Metal. Horsetail stems contain fine-grain Silica with small angular fingers. They are used as an Abrasive for polishing Veneer, burnishing Clay, and smoothing Gesso grounds.

Horsetail Equisetum telmateia

Synonyms and Related Terms

Equisetum hyemale (scouring rush); Dutch rush; rough horsetail; shave grass; scrub grass; gun bright; snake rush; polishing rush; winter rush; evergreen rush; candock; padderok (Dan.; Schachtelhalme (Deut.); prêle (Fr.); sphénophyte (Fr.); asprele (Old French); paardenstaart (Ned.); sneller (Nor.); skrzyp (Pol.)

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Height = 0.2 - 1.5 M
  • Stems=hollow and jointed with vertical ridges
  • Leaves = small and pointed growing in a whorl from each node


Properties of Common Abrasives

Resources and Citations

  • C.Powell, "The Use of Equisetum hyemale (PrÛle/Horsetail/Dutch rush) as an Abrasive in the Gilding Process on Wood" Conservation News 66:p.40, 1998.
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998