OpenStax Biology 2e
Horsetails, whisk ferns, and ferns belong to the phylum Monilophyta, with horsetails placed in the class Equisetopsida. The single genus Equisetum is the survivor of a large group of plants, known as Arthrophyta, which produced large trees and entire swamp forests in the Carboniferous. The plants are usually found in damp environments and marshes.
The stem of a horsetail is characterized by the presence of joints or nodes, hence the name Arthrophyta (arthro- = “joint”; -phyta = “plant”). Leaves and branches come out as whorls from the evenly spaced joints. The needle-shaped leaves do not contribute greatly to photosynthesis, the majority of which takes place in the green stem.
Silica collected by in the epidermal cells contributes to the stiffness of horsetail plants, but underground stems known as rhizomes anchor the plants to the ground. Modern-day horsetails are homosporous. The spores are attached to elaters—as we have seen, these are coiled threads that spring open in dry weather and casts the spores to a location distant from the parent plants. The spores then germinate to produce small bisexual gametophytes.
Clark, M., Douglas, M., Choi, J. Biology 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/biology-2e