"Fungus" in my garder.

Asked May 8, 2018, 7:19 PM EDT

There is an unusual plant popping up this spring in our garden. Size - like a pencil - Top - has row like a appearance - about 6 inches in length - Body - color brownish cream with vertical striations- then about every inch there is a band of brown circling the stem. See the attached picture. We have been unable to identify this and have no idea how to get it out of our garden. Ben Jones Sault Ste. Marie

Chippewa County Michigan

1 Response

The plant pictured and describer is field horsetail (Equisetum arvense), also known as scouring rush.

Field horsetail is a perennial, spore-producing plant with a prolific rhizome system that can grow to a depth of 6 feet. Field horsetail has two stem forms. As pictured here, erect, unbranched, white to brown fruiting stalks (stems) emerge in early spring and bear terminal spore-releasing cones. Vegetative stems are green, branch in whorls and give the plant a bottle-brush appearance. These stems emerge later in the spring and should not exceed 2 feet in height. Field horsetail is a common weed of landscapes, orchards and nursery crops. It is often found in areas of poor soil drainage or where the water table is high. It can also grow particularly well in sandy, gravely soils or neutral or slightly basic soils. Once established, field horsetail can tolerate many habitats.

Control. Anything that can improve surface and subsurface drainage may help reduce the competitive nature and incidence of field horsetail. Mechanical control options include hand pulling shoots and what rhizomes/roots you can dig up. Plants can spread if rhizomes are chopped and not removed, therefore try to get as much as possible and dispose of in the trash, not in compost. By mechanically removing the parts you can get to you may be able to starve the extensive root system over time, but it will require constant vigilance over several years. If soil removal is an option, soil would need to be removed to 6 feet or more. If that is not possible, placing a geotextile fabric in a shallowly excavated area before back filling with new soil would prevent rhizomes from entering the bed. Fabric must be placed on the bottom as well as the sides of the hole.

Herbicide options for field horsetail are limited due to its extensive underground rhizome system. As with any perennial weed, several years of persistent control measures are needed to ensure success. Field horsetail is tolerant to most herbicides used in the landscape. Homeowners have had some success with repeated applications of glyphosate (the active ingredient found in Roundup Weed and Grass Killer, and other generics). Glyphosate will injure desirable plants with which it contacts as a spray or drifted spray. Remember, always read and follow labeled directions and be sure that the chosen product does not contain additional active ingredients as this could impact the ability to replant in the area.