Juncus effusus L.
Juncus effusus is a slow spreading, clump forming, grass-like perennial which emerges from a stout branching rootstock. The short, finely divided rhizomes are 6 to 10 inches long, growing from 1/4 to 2 inches beneath the soil surface. The culms are smooth, erect, bright green and hollow, with reduced basal leaves. New shoots emerge and develop in late summer, reaching up to 4 feet tall at maturity the following spring. The flowers are inconspicuous and are 1 to 4 inches long. The flowers emerge and mature from March to September, peaking in July. A three celled capsule develops after fertilization, which contains many small (.02 to .025 inch long) straw colored seeds. There are an estimated 18,000,000 seeds per pound. Due to the small size and tacky outer coating, the seed of Juncus effusus can be disseminated by wind, water or animals. After shatter, seeds may remain viable for greater than 60 year if over-topped with sediments.
The dense stands that soft rush form have deep fibrous root systems, which provide very good shoreline protection, filter suspended solids, take up nutrients, and facilitate substrate oxidation. The seed and vegetative parts of soft rush are utilized by waterfowl, muskrats, non-game birds, and domestic livestock for food or cover. The stems of this grass-like plant have been traditionally used for making floor mats, and chair seats.
Saturated soil to water less than six inches in depth.
Juncus effusus can be easily grown from seed or vegetative divisions, but seed dispersal is the primary means of natural reproduction. For germination to occur seed must be in contact with moist soil, receive direct sunlight, and over-winter on the soil surface. As long as moist conditions can be sustained and early competition reduced, seedlings will develop the following spring. Nursery and greenhouse production are effectively accomplished with seed or vegetative divisions. Moist stratification improves germination . Stem divisions (bare root and containerized) are reliable when planted on adequate sites before mid-June. A planting unit should contain 3 to 5 culms. They can be planted by hand or mechanically.