Now, at this point I have to pause to explain a bit about how I write this blog. I take my camera with me everywhere and if I see something that interests me, I take a photo of it. Most of the time I know what I'm looking at, but if I don't and I have the time, I try to identify the plant. After that I google it, trying to find some more information about the plant. If you're a regular reader, you know I have a soft spot for etymology or unusual things regarding plant morphology, lineage or ethnobotany.
I knew the plant above was Equisetum but you can imagine my excitement when the first hit on google reads as such:
Equisetum hyemale is not a rush however. Nor is it a fern. Equisetum is the single surviving genus of a class of primitive vascular plants that dates back to the ...To the what?! Well, after reading on, I find that this species dates back to the mid-Devonian period (of course) which was about 350 million years ago. And little facts like that really make my day. (To assure you that I don't take the first google hit as gospel, know that I try to verify a fact like that on a few other reputable sites before regurgitating it on this blog.)
Equisetum is also lumped into the category of fern ally -- it means that while the plant is not a fern (another ancient primitive plant type), it is similar in that the plant doesn't flower, nor has seeds and instead reproduces with spores. Other fern allies include Lycopodium and Salaginella.