Juncus (taxonomic genus)
Temperate biomes, in general
Native to Eurasia, Africa, and the Americas; widespread worldwide
Species vary from Least Concern to Critically Endangered (IUCN Red List)
This species is
to the Truckee Meadows.
Rushes (or, any species in the Juncus genus) look similar to grasses. However, they can be distinguished by their leaves, which are either hollow or filled with marrow. Rushes also differ from grasses in that their modest flowers come off of branches instead of from the stems.
Rushes have not always been of interest to botanists. James Ebenezer Bicheno once described the plant as ‘obscure and uninviting.’
Due to their extensive root system, they help stave off soil erosion.
Rushes provide food for birds and small mammals, but cattle will avoid them.
The scientific name of rushes, Juncus, comes from the Latin word jungere, which means to join or bind together. Rushes most likely got this name because they were used by groups, such as indigenous Americans, for basket weaving, thatching, and binding materials.
Bicheno, James Ebenezer. (1819). XVII. Observations on the Linnean Genus Juncus, with the Characters of those Species, which have been found growing wild in Great Britain. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1095-8339.1817.tb00229.x
Cappers, R. T. J., & Bekker, R. M. (2013). Juncaceae. A manual for the identification of plant seeds and fruits. https://about.proquest.com/products-services/ebooks/ebooks-main.html
DiTomaso, J.M., G.B. Kyser et al. (2013). Weed Control in Natural Areas in the Western United States. Weed Research and Information Center, University of California. 544 p. https://www.cal-ipc.org/product/weed-control-in-natural-areas-in-the-western-united-states/
Hoffman Nursery, Juncus, 2016, https://hoffmannursery.com/juncus
Portland Nursery, Juncus: Rush, 2021, https://portlandnursery.com/grasses/juncus/
Image: Matt Lavin, https://www.flickr.com/photos/plant_diversity/29245891907, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/, cropped from original.
Image: Matt Lavin, https://www.flickr.com/photos/plant_diversity/27404476753/, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/, cropped from original.
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