Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Soft Rush - Juncus effusus   L.
Members of Juncaceae:
Members of Juncus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Juncales » Family Juncaceae
DistributionThroughout the state. One of the most widespread and common plants in the NC flora, certainly found in all counties.

Newf. to MN, south to FL and TX; Mex.
AbundanceCommon to often abundant, and readily found. Impossible to miss if present in any number, as this species can be nearly the sum total (almost 100%) of many marshes.
HabitatWet to moist marshes, meadows, impoundments, beaver ponds, river shores, oxbow ponds, interdune ponds, maritime shrub swamps, roadside ditches, powerlines.
See also Habitat Account for General Sedge, Grass, and Rush Mires
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting June-September.
IdentificationSoft Rush is easily found and easily identified. Stems grow 2-4 feet tall and form many-stemmed tussocks from short, scaly rhizomes. The plant appears leafless, although bladeless leaf sheaths are found at stem bases. There is a single branched inflorescence, appearing to grow from the side of the stem; but in fact it is terminal and overtopped by a long, sharp-pointed bract which looks just like the continuation of the stem. Leathery Rush (J. coriaceus) is quite similar, but stems are not as soft and the capsule is more rounded in shape. Common Rush (J. pylaei) is virtually identical, but has 10-20 striations (shallow ridges) on the stem below the inflorescence (vs. 25-30) and the tepals are longer (2.7-3.6 mm vs. 1.9-2.8 mm).
Taxonomic CommentsThe taxonomy of this cosmopolitan plant is still not settled. As currently treated, ssp. effusus is native to the Old World. See also J. pylaei.

NOTE on Juncus: These "grasslike" or "sedgelike" plants occur in most habitats, especially where moist or wet. They can immediately be told from grasses and sedges by the presence of 6 tepals (petal-like) that surround the fruit. These tepals can be thought of as analogous to sepals and petals of, say, lilies or trilliums. Most species have brown, chestnut, or reddish tepals and dark brown fruits. The flowers occur in few- to many-flowered heads. Leaves are nearly all basal and round in cross-section. Stems are unbranched, except for the inflorescence. Fruits are termed capsules and contain many tiny seeds.
Other Common Name(s)Common Rush
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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