Common Blue butterfly on Soft Rush

©Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

Soft rush

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Scientific name: Juncus effusus
As its name suggests, the smooth stems of Soft rush are thinner and more flexible than those of Hard rush. It forms tufts in wetland habitats like wet woodlands, marshes, ditches and grasslands.

Top facts

Stats

Height: up to 1.5m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

Soft rush is a thin, tuft-forming rush that grows in wet woodlands, marshes, ditches and grasslands. It has smooth, green stems, which can be easily peeled to produce the pith. Traditionally, this was soaked in fat and used as wicks in household lamps as it was a cheaper alternative to candlelight; this practice was revived during the Second World War in some rural areas. As with other sedges and rushes, Soft rush spreads with creeping rhizomes (underground stems); it flowers from May to July.

What to look for

Soft rush has tall, thin, smooth stems without leaves that are more flexible and a brighter green than those of the similar Hard rush. Its pale brown flowers are borne in loose, rounded clusters.

Where to find

Widespread.

Did you know?

Soft rush can be plaited into all kinds of ornaments, and is used by children to make bracelets.