Juncus patens is a perennial herb forming narrow, erect bunches of stems. It grows up to 3 feet (0.91 m) in height by 1–2 feet (0.30–0.61 m) in width. It spreads by rhizomes, which can increase a colonies width substantially.
The stems are thin, gray-green, often somewhat waxy, and grooved, and grow 30–90 centimetres (12–35 in) in height.
The fruit is a spherical red or brown capsule which fills and bulges from the dried flower remnants when mature. The seeds attract birds.
Juncus patens is cultivated as an ornamental plant, for use in traditional and wildlife gardens, and in natural landscaping design, and in habitat restoration projects. Its tall narrow form fits into narrow garden beds and planters adjacent to walkway walls, and in container planting. Despite its moist habitat origins, it can be very drought-tolerant when established.
Cultivars of Juncus patens, selected for blue and/or gray foliage emphasis, include:
- Juncus patens 'Carman's Grey' — Carmen's California Gray Rush, steely blue-gray.
- Juncus patens 'Elk Blue' — Elk Blue California Gray Rush, blue-gray.
- Juncus patens 'Occidental Blue' — Occidental Blue California Gray Rush, gray-green.
- Flora of North America: Juncus patens
- Encyclopedia of Life: Juncus patens; C.Michael Hogan ed. 2010.
- Las Pilitas Database: Juncus patens (Common Rush)
- California Natives Wiki: Juncus patens — Theodore Paune Foundation horticulture database.
- San Marcos Growers database: Juncus patens homepage
- Harlow, Nora and Kristin Jakob; Wild Lilies, Irises, and Grasses: Gardening with California Monocots; Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA; University of California Press; 2003.
- Bornstein, Carol, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien; California Native Plants for the Garden; Los Olivos, CA; Cachuma Press; 2005.
- Boething Treeland Farms: Juncus patens 'Carmen's Gray'
- San Marcos Growers database: Juncus patens 'Elk Blue'
- Annies Annuals database: Juncus patens 'Occidental Blue' (Blue Leaved Rush)
- Redding Water Smart Juncus patens 'Occidental Blue'
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