a turn towards botany
Blueberry's questions about Equisetum have set off a whole round of thoughts and possible schemes. I have been fascinated by Equisetum ever since I first learned about it in my botany classes way back in college. A little research turns up comments such as "prehistoric" "living fossils" and "Coal Age." When I see this plant, in my imagination, I think of 400 million year old trees.
Equisetum = horsetails = scouring rush
It is related to ferns, sexually reproduces by spores or vegetatively by cuttings of the rhizomes. It gets one of its names, scouring rush, from the fact that the plant cells are filled with silica and has been used to sand things like clarinet reeds and pots and pans.
Does it require a lot of water? Simple answer - yes. One of the species, E. arvense is suited to a little drier environment but some warn that it can become an aggressive invader. E. hyemale definitely likes to have it rhizomes in water. Many sites recommend planting it in containers. Will it grow in Austin? I don't know for certain but I would say yes since it is so widely distributed.
I am going to plant some. My first choice is to find some to dig up and grow from root stock. It is quite common here in Colorado. Otherwise, you can do a google search and find nurseries that sell it. Good luck to you if you decide to try it - I'll keep you posted on any progress on my part. (don't hold your breath - all things in good time)
Now, where should I plant it? I am working on a vision!