|Critter trails through scouring rush on Bull Creek|
This time of year when nature lacks color there is an evergreen that doesn't get much press. It thrives permanently on several banks along Bull Creek but is easy to overlook. It doesn't flower, has no seeds or leaves, and stands less than three feet tall. It is an ancient species and definitely a "horse of a different color."
Equisetum (horsetail) is as primitive as it looks, a genus of living fossils, the only surviving members of its class named Equisetopsida, members of the fern family. Their heyday was the Paleozoic Era (360-250 million years ago) when they were the dominant plants. There were many diverse species filling the under story of the forests, some growing 90 feet tall. Their remains have accumulated in the earth for millions of years, producing our coal beds.
|Jointed stems of Equisetum - John Hilty at Illinoiswildflowers.info|
|Multiple lateral cones - John Hilty|
|Spore-bearing cone - John Hilty|
|Black teeth (leaves) - Illinoiswildflowers|
I find the best website for detailed information on Missouri plants is Illinoiswildflowers. It also is rich in faunal associations and has great photographs, many of which are available to non-profit organizations like ours through their photo use policy. A big thanks to webmaster John Hilty and his team.