categoryZGrasses Grasses List 

SOFT RUSH

Juncus effusus

Rushes Family [Juncaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

category
category8Grasses
 
status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8brown
 
inner
inner8cream
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ6
(3+3)
type
typeZclustered
 
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8ribbed
 

1st Sept 2004, nr Entwistle, West Pennine Moors, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
One of the two commonest rushes, grows to 1.5m, but usually shorter.


16th July 2005, Belmont, West Pennine Moors, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Grows in clumps/tussocks on moist acid grassland such as moors and dampish meadows, especially those that are over-grazed as here.


16th July 2005, Belmont, West Pennine Moors, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are cream to brown and occur on a single reed about 1/4 way down from the spiky top. It is possible that these on this photograph are those of the similar Compact Rush (Juncus conglomeratus) where the flowers form a compact spherical conglomeration.


21st July 2012, Abney Moor, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Flowers grow fairly close together, but not in a compact spherical conglomerate like they do in the similar Compact Rush (Juncus conglomeratus).


19th June 2012, on Gun, Staffordshire. Photo: © RWD
The flowers, on several short and branched stalks, emerge from a slit in the reed, surrounded by a papery bract. The reed is either smooth or has many but shallow ridges or ribs.


21st July 2012, Abney Moor, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The reeds are more glaucous than those of the similar Hard Rush and perhaps slightly thicker too and the flowers in a more compact bunch.


21st July 2012, Abney Moor, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Like all reeds, it has six first green, turning prown, pointed petals (centre). The papery sheaths around the splitting branches differ from those on Hard Rush.


21st July 2012, Abney Moor, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The white pith within is continuous (and not discontinuous as it is in Hard Rush). The break in the pith here was as a result of peeling off the green covering to reveal the pith).


21st July 2012, Abney Moor, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The pith has a structure and viscous resilience similar to that of loofers, but with a much finer mesh: compress it and it will slowly but eventually almost return to its original dimensions.


21st July 2012, Abney Moor, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Side view of pith in split reed. The break was caused during the peeling process, it is continuous really.


8th Sept 2012, a hut, Hawes, Wensleydale. Photo: © RWD
A Rushlight, or Rushflame, where the pith has been soaked in an oil, in this instance Rapeseed Oil.


Easily mistaken for : Hard Rush (Juncus inflexus) and Compact Rush (Juncus conglomeratus).

Hybridises with :

  • Hard Rush (Juncus inflexus) to produce Juncus × diffusus which is scattered across mainly England.
  • Compact Rush (Juncus conglomeratus) to produce Juncus × kern-reichgeltii which is mainly found in South West Wales.
  • Baltic Rush (Juncus balticus) to produce Juncus × obotritorum which is only found on the Sefton Coast.
It is not known whether any of the above photographs are any of the above hybrids.

Soft rushes, because of the soft resilient pith they contain which is a fine mesh full mostly of air, can be used in an improvised bed as thermal insulation from the cold ground by wild campers.

The dried pith was also used to make 'rushlights', so-called because they were made from the pith of rushes which were extracted from the rush, soaked in fat or grease, and then lit. They were thus only as thick as the pith and were used in England by poor people to light their homes, people who were otherwise un-able to afford candles. Their use extended from the 1600's to the end of the 19th Century, with a brief revival during WWII. There were also rush-candles, where the rush pith was used as the wick in an ordinary candle, where it is surrounded by thick layers of tallow.


  Juncus effusus  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Juncaceae  

Distribution
 family8Rushes family8Juncaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Juncus
Juncus
(Rushes)

SOFT RUSH

Juncus effusus

Rushes Family [Juncaceae]