Husby C.,The Montgomery Botanical Center
Botanical Review | Year: 2013
Horsetails are unique survivors of a very ancient group of vascular plants, the Sphenophyta, which has a history reaching back to the Upper Devonian. Despite the striking conservatism of Equisetum architecture and anatomy and the small number of species (15) in the modern flora, their ability to thrive under a wide range of conditions is remarkable. This is due to a diverse suite of adaptations that allow tolerance of disturbance, soil anoxia, high metals, and salinity, along with efficient nutrient uptake and nitrogen fixation. The giant horsetails represent the largest living Sphenophyta and provide insights into how their larger ancestors lived and how this ancient lineage has managed to survive in tropical regions. © 2013 The New York Botanical Garden.