These horsetails are commonly found in wet or swampy forest, open woodlands, and meadow areas. The species name sylvaticum is Latin for “of the forests”, emphasizing that the wood horsetail is most commonly found in forested habitats. The plant is an indicator of boreal and cool-temperate climates, and very moist to wet, nitrogen-poor soils.
This plant reproduces by spores, but its primary means of reproduction is done vegetatively by rhizomes. These rhizome systems are deep and extensive, as well as extremely long-lived. These creeping rhizomes occasionally produce tubers, and often outweigh the above-ground growth by 100 to 1.