This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(ancient Greek name, used by Pliny for the horse-tail). Gnetdceae. Woody subjects, rarely cultivated; usually found only in botanical collections, although the scarlet fruits of some species are very attractive.
Usually low much-branched shrubs, often procumbent and sometimes climbing, the green branches resembling much those of Equisetum, bearing minute, scale-like, sheathing leaves in distant pairs or whorls: flowers dioecious, in small aments, forming usually peduncled axillary clusters; staminate flower with a 2-4-lobed perianth and with the 2-8 stamens united into a column; pistillate flower with an urceolate perianth, including a naked ovule, developing into a nutlet; in some species the bracts of the ament become fleshy, and form a berry-like syncarp. - About 30 species from S. Eu., N. Africa, Asia and in tropical Amer. Latest monograph by O. Stapf, in Denkschr. Akad. Wissensch. Wien., vol. 56 (1889), (in German and Latin). Curious-looking, usually low shrubs, with pale green apparently leafless branchlets, much resembling those of the horse-tail and with inconspicuous flowers, but fruit in some species decorative, berry-like and scarlet. They are but rarely grown, and most of them are tender; half-hardy N. are E. distachya, E. foliata, E. nevadensis, E. trifurca. They can be used for covering dry, sandy banks or rocky slopes.
Prop, is by seeds or by suckers and layers.
E. altissima, Desf. Climbing shrub, to 20 ft., green: leaves to 1 in. long: aments paniculate or solitary; flowers with 2-3 stamens; pistillate flowers 1-2: fruit berry-like, ovoid, 1/3in. long, scarlet. N. Africa B.M. 7670. G.C. III. 7:792. - E. distachya, Linn.(E. vulgaris, Linn.). Low, often procumbent, 1-3 ft., pale or bluish green: leaves one-twelveth in. long: aments usually clustered, staminate oblong; flowers with about 8 stamens, pistillate 2-flowered: fruit berry-like. S. Eu., W. Asia. R.F.G. 11:809. variety monostachya, Stapf. Aments usually solitary. - E. foliata, Boiss. (E. kokanica, Regel). Procumbent or erect, to 15 ft., bright or bluish green: leaves to 1 in. long: aments usually clustered, ovate; staminate flowers with 3-4 sessile stamens; pistillate 2-flowered: fruit berry-like. W. Asia. - E. kokanica, Regel=E. foliata. - E. nebro-densis, Tineo. Erect, with rigid, pale green branches: leaves 1/8in. long: aments solitary or few; staminate globular; pistillate 2-flowered: fruit berry-like. Medit. region to Himalayas. - E. nevadensis, Wats. Erect, 2-3 ft., with pale or bluish green branches: leaves 1/8in.: aments usually solitary; staminate ovate, 6-8-flowered; pistillate 2-flowered: fruit dry, with ovate bracts.
Calif., New Mex. - E. trifurca, Torr. Erect, with rigid, yellowish or pale green branches: leaves in 3's, connate, about 1/4in long; aments solitary; pistillate 1-flowered: fruit dry, the roundish bracts with transparent margins. Ariz, to Colo. - E. vulgaris, Linn.=E. distachya. Alfred Rehder.