- "Soft Rush" redirects here. In inland North America, this usually refers to Interior Rush (J. interior).
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Soft rush (Juncus effusus) is a member of the genus Juncus. Native to most continents, and hence also known as common rush, this plant is found growing in wet areas, such as the purple moor-grass and rush pastures and fen-meadow plant associations in the United Kingdom.
It grows in large clumps about 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) tall at the water's edge along streams and ditches, but can be invasive anywhere with moist soil. It is commonly found growing in humus-rich areas like marshes, ditches, fens, and beaver dams.
The stems are smooth cylinders with light pith filling. The yellowish inflorescence appears to emerge from one side of the stem about 20 centimetres (8 in) from the top. In fact the stem ends there; the top part is the bract, that continues with only a slight colour-band marking it from the stem. The lower leaves are reduced to a brown sheath at the bottom of the stem.
Distinction from other species
Differentiation within the species
Juncus effusus is divided into no fewer than nine varieties, as listed by the USDA. They include the following varieties: the 'lamp rush' varieties brunneus, decipiens, exiguus, gracilis, and solutus; 'common rush' varieties conglomeratus, effusus, and pylaei; and 'Pacific rush' pacificus. Many of these have overlapping distributions in the US.
It is a common plant native in most temperate countries.
Control of rushes
Soft rush can become invasive because of its unpalatability to livestock. Suggested methods of controlling rushes are
- High applications of inorganic fertiliser, coupled with taking silage crops. However application of farm yard manure is ineffective
- Topping, i.e. to prevent seed formation and distribution into the soil, followed by autumn or winter flooding for a week or two
Burning is ineffective because the plant remains green through the winter.
Wildfowl and wader feeding and nesting habitat, also a habitat to small mammals.
A number of invertebrates feed on soft rush, including the rufous minor moth
In Europe, this rush was once used to make rushlights (by soaking the pith in grease), a cheap alternative to candles.
In hui sup tea, Juncus effusus is listed as one of the seven ingredients.
- Peter F.Zika (2003). "The native subspecies of Juncus effusus (Juncaceae) in western North America". Brittonia 55 (2): 150–156. doi:10.1663/0007-196X(2003)055[0150:TNSOJE]2.0.CO;2. JSTOR 3218455.
- C. Michael Hogan, ed. 2010. Juncus effusus. Encyclopedia of Life.
- Cutting Rushes Article in Conservation Land Management Magazine, Spring 2003, see British Wildlife Publishing website for a copy
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