Juncus effusus features cylindrical upright green stems that appear coarse and stiff but are soft to the touch.
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Juncus effusus features cylindrical upright green stems that appear coarse and stiff but are soft to the touch. It is a native plant commonly found in stream margins, ponds, wet depressions in fields, and in roadside ditches. Juncus effusus is a striking vertical addition to any garden or container planting. Easily grown in moist to wet soils, including standing water to 4” deep, in full sun locations. Tolerates light shade, but best in full sun. Notwithstanding its preference for abundant moisture, soft rush will perform surprisingly well in average garden soils as long as they receive consistent irrigation. Juncus effusus clumps are often slow to establish, but once established will spread by creeping rhizomes. Soft rush may be grown in tubs or containers sunk in the mud to control unwanted rhizome spread. Plants will also naturalize by self-seeding. In St. Louis, clumps die to the ground in winter. Cut back old foliage in early spring. Juncus effusus commonly called soft rush, common rush, bog rush or mat rush, is a grass-like, rhizomatous perennial that features cylindrical upright green stems in spreading basal clumps to 20-40” tall. Clumps provide vertical accent to moist garden areas. Although the stems appear from a distance as coarse and stiff, they are soft to the touch. Soft rush is native to North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. In many locations it is considered to be a somewhat aggressive weed. Juncus effuses var. solutus is commonly found in central and southern Missouri in stream margins, sloughs, ponds, wet depressions in fields, pastures and prairies and in roadside ditches (Steyermark). Soft rush is one of the true rushes. The plant leaves are reduced to bladeless sheathing at the stem bases. Insignificant, tiny, yellowish-green to pale brown flowers appear in clusters (many flowered cymes) that emerge on the side of the stems slightly below the stem tips in summer. Foliage turns yellow in fall before browning up for winter. Soft rush is commercially grown in Japan for making tatami (woven mats for homes). From ancient times until the early 1900s, soft rush stems were used in England to create inexpensive, candle-like evening lights called “rushlights.” Rush stems were peeled away and the inner pith was soaked in animal fat, grease or wax. When dry, the pith could be lit at one end (sometimes both ends) and burned like a candle. Genus name probably comes from the Latin word jungere meaning to join in reference to a one-time use of plant stems for binding or basket weaving. Specific epithet means loose-spreading in probable reference to plant habit.