Rush, Soft

:Non-edible Other Uses
:Medicinal Herbs
:Pictures needed
Scientific Name: Juncus effusus
Family: Juncaceae
Also known as: Common rush, lamp rush, Pacific rush
Habitat: Wet pastures, bogs, damp woods etc, usually on acid soils. Throughout the northern temperate zone, including Britain, east and south Africa, Australasia.
Description: Juncus effusus grows in large clumps up to 1.5 metres 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. As such it can be used as a reliable indicator of the presence of water (for pitching your camp, or digging for water).
Identifying Features:

  • Stem – The stems are smooth cylinders with light pith filling.
  • Leaves – The lower leaves are reduced to a brown sheath at the bottom of the stem.
  • Bract – Above the inflorescence, is actually a bract, not a continuation of the stem. The bract has only a slight colour-band marking it from the stem.
  • Flowers – The yellowish inflorescence appears to emerge from one side of the stem about 20 centimetres from the top.

Pictures throughout the year




Young shoots – raw. Some caution is advised, see the notes on toxicity.


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.

Gav Notes

Known hazards

One report says it is possibly toxic to mammals, and it’s not much use for food anyway, so probably best avoided.



Potential lookalikes

Other rushes.
Blog post

  • Tree & Plant ID Course from Foundation Bushcraft –
  • Wikipedia –
  • Woodland Trust –

Share This:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.