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In fact, Equisetum is the only surviving genus of the entire class Equisetopsida, which for over one hundred million years was very diverse and dominated the understory of late Paleozoic forests. Some Equisetopsida were large trees reaching to 30 m[verification needed] tall; the genus Calamites of family Calamitaceae for example is abundant in coal deposits from the Carboniferous period.
A superficially similar but entirely unrelated flowering plant genus, mare's tail (Hippuris), is occasionally misidentified and misnamed as 'horsetail'.