Botanical Name: Juncus effusus
Species: J. effusus
Synonyms: J. communis effusus.
Common Names: Common rush, Soft Rush, Lamp rush, Pacific rush
Habitat: Juncus effusus is native to the northern temperate zone, including Britain, east and south Africa, Australasia. It grows on the wet pastures, bogs, damp woods etc, usually on acid soils.
Juncus effusus is perennial plant.It grows in large clumps about 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) tall at the water’s edge along streams and ditches, but can be invasive anywhere with moist soil. It is commonly found growing in humus-rich areas like marshes, ditches, fens, and beaver dams.
The stems are smooth cylinders with light pith filling. The yellowish inflorescence appears to emerge from one side of the stem about 20 centimetres (8 in) from the top. In fact the stem ends there; the top part is the bract, that continues with only a slight colour-band marking it from the stem. The lower leaves are reduced to a brown sheath at the bottom of the stem.
Cultivation: Easily grown in a moist soil, bog garden or shallow water. Prefers a heavy soil in sun or light shade.
Seed – surface sow in pots in a cold frame in early spring and keep the compost moist. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer if they have grown sufficiently, otherwise in late spring of the following year. Division in spring. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.
Edible Uses: Young shoots are eaten raw. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Juncus effusus is listed as one of the seven ingredients of Hui sup tea.
The pith of the stem is antiphlogistic, depurative, discutient, diuretic, febrifuge, lenitive, lithontripic, pectoral and sedative. It is used in the treatment of sore throats, jaundice, oedema, acute urinary tract infection and morbid crying of babies.
Stems are used in basket making, thatching, weaving mats etc. The stems can also be dried then twisted or braided into ropes for tying or binding. Stems can be peeled (except for a small spine which is left to keep them upright) and soaked in oil then used as a candle. A fibre obtained from the stems is used for making paper. The stems are harvested in late summer or autumn, they are split and cut into usable pieces and then soaked for 24 hours in clear water. They are then cooked for 2 hours with lye and beaten in a blender. The fibres make an off-white paper. When mixed with mulberry fibres they can be used for making stencil paper. The whole plant was formerly used as a strewing herb. In Japan, this rush is grown to be woven into the covering of tatami mats. In Iran and Afghanistan too it is used to weave light cheap mats. It is called halfa. In Europe, this rush was once used to make rushlights (by soaking the pith in grease), a cheap alternative to candles.
The species provides wildfowl, wader feeding, and nesting habitats, and also habitats for small mammals. The rootstalks are eaten by muskrats, and birds take shelter amongst the plant’s stems. A number of invertebrates feed on soft rush, including the rufous minor moth.
Known Hazards: Possibly toxic to mammals.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.