Breathing in the fragrant morning air on a run in High Park, my friend Denise spotted a spring crop of horsetail.

Equisetum, or horsetail, is a rare “living fossil” with a life line connected to the Paleozoic forests.  Here, in our urban forest, we had an encounter with the only surviving genus of its class, whose ancestry dates millions of years.

It is plentiful locally and after last night’s rain it was verdant and springy.  We paused to do a little wild foraging.

Denise, who is an herbalist and proprietor of Matter Company, related that spring is the time to benefit most from its properties.  High in trace minerals including calcium and silica, it is strengthening for the bones, nails and hair and replenishing to the skin.  She uses horsetail in her amazing outdoors line of hand cream for these very reasons.

At home I made an infusion.  Steeped for a few moments in boiling water, the flavour is slightly grassy.  Detoxifying and strengthening to the kidneys, it is a refreshing little sip of an ancient forest.