Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
RUSH FAMILY (Juncaceae)
IND. STATUS: OBL
FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: Densely cespitose (tufted) perennial with stout rhizomes and stems 2-12 dm. in height. Leaves lacking a leaf blade and auricles, only a sheath present. Involucral leaf (10)15-25(35) cm. long, appearing to be a continuation of the stem. The many-flowered inflorescence appears to "erupt" from the side of the stem. Flowers consist of 6 tepals (3 sepals + 3 petals that are similar in color and size (2-2.5(3)mm. long)) surrounding a capsule. Capsule is many- seeded. Seeds are minute (0.2-0.3 mm. long).
A major division in keys to the Juncus species involves whether the inflorescence is terminal or lateral. Soft rush has a lateral inflorescence that appears to erupt from the side of the stem. Slender rush (J. tenuis) illustrates a terminal inflorescence.
ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Soft rush occurs in shallow marshes, inland fresh meadows, borders of bogs and along shores.
SOURCE: Voss (1972); Gleason and Cronquist (1991); Great Plains Flora Association (1991); and Swink and Wilhelm (1994).