Who would think such a pretty little plant could be considered a nasty invasive monster?
Meet Equisetum arvense, more commonly known as Horsetail or sometimes Mare’s tail. My images show the plant in the springtime, when its sturdy shoots first push their way up through even the most compact ground (I’ve seen them force through a pile of tarmac left by workmen at the side of the road). These shoots grow between 20-50cm (10-20in) tall and that cone-like part at the top opens up to release spores, in a way similar to some fungi. In the summertime, the shoots develop into a miniature version of a fir tree plantation, their dense foliage growing to around 60cm (2ft) tall and crowding out other nearby plants.
The Horsetail’s roots are also strong, which is partly why it’s considered so invasive. The roots grow quickly and can dive down as deep as 2m (7ft) into the ground, so are difficult to remove, and they also spread sidewise. If this is growing in your neighbour’s garden, chances are it will soon appear in yours as well. I found whole banks of Horsetail growing along the water’s edge in Cardiff Bay, where it looked very pretty with the water sparkling in the background.