Erica equisetifolia is a compact, erect to rounded and hairless shrublet reaching heights from 20 cm to 30 cm. It forms part of the Pyronium Section of the Erica genus and now includes E. parvula.
The narrow green leaves overlap, pressed upon the stems with in-curving tips. They vary in length on different plants. A slight, whitish line is sometimes visible on the back of the leaf where the down-curving leaf margins don’t quite meet. The specific name, equisetifolia, refers to the leaf-shape that resembles the tail of a horse. Equus means horse, saeta means bristle or thick animal hair (ironical in naming a hairless plant) and folium meaning leaf; all these words used in the description are from Latin.
The small flowers are white or pink, somewhat tubular to slightly urn-shaped with short, broad lobes that curve slightly outwards. Short bracts are present at the base of the longish flower stalk. The narrow, pointed sepals clasping the base of the corolla tube are pale to dark purplish. Four blackish anthers protrude from the flower mouth, the nearly white stigma exserted beyond them. Flowering happens from late spring to mid-autumn.
The species occurs on fynbos flats and mountain slopes from Franschhoek to Caledon and Bredasdorp. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century (Manning, 2007; Bean and Johns, 2005; Bond and Goldblatt, 1984; Andrew, 2017; iSpot; www.redlist.sanbi.org).