Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Needlepod Rush - Juncus scirpoides   Lamarck
Members of Juncaceae:
Members of Juncus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Juncales » Family Juncaceae
DistributionCoastal Plain, Sandhills, and Piedmont; scarce in the low mountains and western Piedmont.

NY to MI and MO, south to southern FL and TX.
AbundanceFrequent to locally common in the Coastal Plain, Sandhills, and lower Piedmont; rare to uncommon in the western Piedmont and southern mountains.
HabitatMoist to wet pine savannas and flatwoods, pocosin ecotones, blackwater streamheads, wet meadows, ditches, damp clearings.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting June-October.
IdentificationNeedlepod Rush is similar in gestalt to several other species with an open inflorescence and round or hemispherical heads. Seeds lack pale tails, so that eliminates J. canadensis, J. brevicaudatus, and J. subcaudatus. Leaves are not flattened laterally, so that eliminates J. polycephalus and J. validus. From J. megacephalus, it differs in having exserted anthers (vs. included and shorter than tepals) and green-brown mature heads (vs. chestnut or reddish brown).
Taxonomic CommentsSome authors do not recognize variations within J. scirpoides, but taxon editors do. The nominate variety occurs nearly statewide, but var. compositus is essentially limited to the Coastal Plain.

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)Scirpus-like Rush
State RankS5
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
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Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieWalthour Moss Foundation, moist roadside ditch, June 2012. Flowering. MoorePhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieSandhills Game Land, intermittently ponded roadbed, Strausburg Road, July 2019.

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