Horsetailforest noloss


After surviving 100 million years, is it primitive, or classic?

It was an extremely early plant design: long before flowering plants appeared, relatives of these bright horsetails grew like trees, nearly 100 feet tall.  The grove here were nearly 3 feet tall and densely massed along the wet trailside. Up close it was possible to imagine walking beneath a forest of them. Horsetails reproduce with spores, not seed, and to the touch they’re ribbed and rough. Nodes in the hollow stems put out the primitive fringes of leaf-like needles.

Like many designs that popped up in nature’s test kitchen, this one has continued to work for a few hundred million years, which is why we can still enjoy it.

Given it’s ancestry and age, strange appearance and obvious lack of modern features, it’s easy to dismiss these creatures as ‘primitive’. Maybe we need a new way of describing wildly successful classic designs.

Russian Gulch noloss
The stream that empies here, at Russian Gulch State Park, wanders inland along a narrow trail called Fern Canyon, where coastal fogs and humidity create the perfect microclimate.