Juncus effusus L.
Soft rush, common rush
Soft or common rush is native to Eurasia, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. It is at home in acidic, wet soils, such as pond or swamp edges. The attractive-looking clumps are sometimes used in landscaping.
Plants: Soft rush reaches 24-48" (60-121 cm) in height, growing in clumps (“tussocks”) 24-48" (60-121 cm) around. Individual stems resemble grass from a distance, but up close, they are smooth and round, filled with a light pith, and soft to the touch. At the base of each stem there is a dark ”basal sheath” 2-3" (5-7.6 cm) long.
Leaves: A reddish or brown sheath at the bottom of each stem.
Flowers: The most notable characteristic is the flower clusters, with 30-100 flowers, which stick out sideways from partway up the stem, looking rather lopsided. Actually, the flowers are at the stem tips, but a bract (specialized leaf) continues upward, looking like a continuation of the stem. Tiny, barely noticeable flowers are yellowish-green to pale brown.
Fruits: Brown oval capsules about ¹/₁₆-⅛" (2-3.5 mm) long, which split open into three parts, releasing tiny seeds about ¹/₃₂" (0.5 mm) in size. Each seed is long, flattened, roughly elliptical, and brown.
Juncus effusus at Illinois Wildflowers
Juncus effusus on CalPhotos
Juncus effusus on floridata.com
Juncus effusus on Perry’s Perennial Pages at the University of Vermont
Juncus effusus on the USDA Plants Database
Juncus effusus at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Juncus effusus on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Juncus effusus from the Jepson Manual
Juncus effusus on eFloras
Juncus effusus description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 21 Aug 2020.
Range: Zones 4-9: