January 15, 2007 (Vol. 27, No. 2)


Strong Points: Informative
Weak Points: A molecular focus needed

If you’re a botanist, you probably recognize Equisetum as a horsetail plant, but if you’re not, like me, you probably had visions of bizarre, exotic organisms. Turns out, I wasn’t far off. Giant horsetails are, in fact, rather unusual looking and their description as giant is accurate. With sizes up to 20 feet high and stems nearly as thick as one’s wrist, the plants aren’t what you commonly keep indoors. Native to South America, the plants are perennials with an anatomy that has been described as “unique among plants.” “What’s the hook,” you’re probably wondering. OK, here goes—Equisetum is an unusual collection of plants that takes up and accumulates silicon in its tissue. Scientists have observed that these plants resist many bacterial and fungal infections and are now spraying silicon solutions on other plants to help prevent the spread of disease. Learn more about these unusual plants at this informative site.

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