Sectional grass?

I'm hoping someone here can give a name to a plant my sister and I loved when we were little girls summering in the northern part of the lower peninsula of Michigan.
I'm assuming it's a grass. All I remember of it is its stem -- clarification: my memory is that the plant was nothing but a bunch of these stems. Each round stem (of maybe 1/8 - 1/4 inch diameter?) could fairly easily be pulled apart into sections of about an inch or more (?) in length. There were joints in each stem where the separation would occur if you pulled. The stems were green (natch!) dark green, I think, with bands of darker green maybe at the joints? I was 8 when we left Michigan for the last time, and I'm now 51, so please bear that in mind when trying to match this to a plant.
If I can find out what it is, I'd like to see if I can grow it in my garden in Boston. It would nice to have a symbol of those happy summers.
Thanks!
Priscilla
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Fellow Michigander here........ It's snake grass. We had a ball with it, as kids too. It's a marsh plant so I'm not sure how it would grow in a typical garden. Lori

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Forgot a picture... http://www.bunchofbloomers.com/snakegrass_photo.shtml

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Search at http://images.google.com for the word "Equisetum". These are the horsetails and scouring rushes, with a prominent spore-bearing generation. More closely allied with ferns than with true grasses, which are seed plants. Species in Michigan are: Equisetum arvense E. fluviatile E. hyemale E. laevigatum E. palustre E. pratense E. scirpoides E. sylvaticum E. telmateia E. variegatum and hybrids between various species. http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/plants/sphenophyta/sphenophyta.html
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Equisetum (horsetail, snakegrass, scouring rush). It is thought to be a survivor from the Triassic and may be the oldest living genus of vascular plant. Careful where you plant it: it is mightily persistent and invasive, especially in moist places.
--
Chris Green

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Thanks to *everybody* who answered me! We called it snake grass when we were kids, but I didn't realize it was the real name. I found no commercial vendors who carried it, but several folks on eBay were offering plants, so I put in a bid. I'm planning to put it in a new raised bed, so I'm not as worried about its invasiveness, since I can control spread so much easier in raised bed.
It will be lovely to have a little reminder of my happy childhood summers here in the garden of my middle age. Thanks again to all who helped with information.
Priscilla
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On Sat, 21 Aug 2004 16:00:43 GMT, Priscilla Ballou

Various Equisetum species have made the noxious-weed lists of many states. It is not on the list for Mass., so you should be OK.
--
Chris Green


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Do yourself a favor, and put it in a pot, raised above the ground several inches, or set on concrete. Equisetum is rhizomatous, and spreads nicely, and regenerates from broken bits of rhizomes. If you remember a ditch or field full of Equisetum -- well, that was probably all one plant. It will "run" a fair distance and pop up again.
Field horsetail, for instance, has been found to run 300+ ft horizontally and 20 ft deep. It's also toxic to a number of livestock species, including horses, sheep and cattle (google "equisetosis"), and can inhibit growth of other plants.
Much as I think Equisetums are really cool plants*, I wouldn't give them a chance to spread. You'll still have spores as a potential source of new plants spreading around, but the "preferred" method for most species seems to be vegetatively. Equisetums are difficult to control culturally or with chemicals once established, so be watchful. *Once you have some spores, let them get very dry, and shake some onto paper. Look at them with a handlens, and breathe on them gently-- you can watch the elaters --wings-- uncoil from a "deathstar" configuration to fully spread.
Kay Lancaster snipped-for-privacy@fern.com
ps: Equisetum scirpoides, a miniature species, will grow nicely as a houseplant in a south window, if that would suffice for you.
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Thanks for the helpful info. I think the inset container would work best. Heck, this is all theoretical right now. The landscaper won't be able to build the beds until after Labor Day. The bed I want to put the snake grass in will be under the livingroom windows, next to the sillcock. It won't get lots of sun, and I'm planning on that being my "textures of green" bed, with ferns, snake grass, lilies of the valley, and a touch of color from astilbe or the like. I could put the snake grass container so it's mostly inset but a little raised, and cover that fact with some strategically placed stones. Yes? I'm thinking of running something from the sillcock (which drips anyway) to provide ongoing moisture to the bed. Maybe some day I'll have a little tiny pond in there. :-) That's a far-off dream.
Priscilla
Priscilla
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No. Not unless you want to chance your yard (not just your bed) being a solid stand of Equisetum in the future. Pot, raised above the soil surface several inches, with clear airspace underneath, and monthly or so examinations to remove any bits that want to come out and play in larger plots of soil.
If you're a fan of the Old Star Trek... well, Equisetum does a pretty good tribble imitation.
Kay
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*sigh* OK. I guess I'm going to have to yield to reason. Drat! Houseplants.
Thanks for persisting until I came to my senses.
Priscilla
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Sorry... it's just that it really is persistant and spreading... the estimates around here are that a field with a start of E. arvense, the common horsetail of the upper Midwest, will go from one plant to a 2.5 acre solid stand in 6 years. Sigh. http://ipcm.wisc.edu/uw_weeds/extension/articles/conhorsetail.htm
I wish it weren't so... Equisetums are really wonderful plants. But deliberately planting them is just a bit too close to feeding Tribbles.
Kay
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<snip>

I saw a deliberate planting during this year's Through the Garden Gate tour of Rosedale gardens in Toronto.
I also noted that it was within a large concrete elevated planter. :)
Shirley Hicks Toronto, Ontario "A liberal is a conservative who's been through treatment." - Garrison Keillor
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Maybe I can put the pot of horsetail on the inside sill of the window right over that bed? ;-) That way there'd be *some* association. [At this point I'm mostly joking about this. I've caved in to good sense.]
Priscilla
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